Club Kid-Turned-Raw Food Queen: Talking To Karliin Brooks, Founder Of The Squeeze

I’ve know Karliin Brooks since she was a kid …a club kid, that is. Years later, Karliin has put all that behind her and is living the good life, dedicated to helping others live a healthy lifestyle by founding The Squeeze: a company devoted to “producing the best-tasting raw foods in the city, such as detox cleanses, superfoods, and fresh live produce prepared into raw gourmet meals.”

In this week’s series of where are they now?” for fabulous types, Karliin is alive and very well. Her truck is a solution to getting your act together, and her partner is club royalty Jen Gatien, who has a successful film career. Gatien producedLimelight and a bunch of other flicks.

Karliin – who has worked for ABC as a freelance producer and owns a production location agency – graduated NYU with degrees in broadcast journalism and nutrition. It all makes sense now.

Karliin also has, at any given time, 15 to 20 pets under her care, which is why The Squeeze is cruelty-free. I caught up with my old friend and asked her all about it.

Tell me about raw food porn.
The Squeeze’s cold-pressed juice and raw comfort food have been known to induce states of euphoria. It tastes naughty, but it’s healthy! Our Mint Choco Chip Mousse is a babe – made with raw unpasteurized coconut meat, spirulina, Irish moss, and activated cashews. It’s so good, you’ll think you have to give it up for Lent. We convert high-energy raw food into something that people can recognize and would consume: like Mac ‘n Cheese, Funyuns, Almond Joys, Almond Buttercups – all your favorite American classics without the guilt. And lets face it, vegans taste better and have superlative stamina. I have done the research.
 
You certainly enjoyed your stint in clubland and saw its excesses and pitfalls. Did that experience shove you toward a healthier lifestyle?
I did bear witness to a tragic amount of ODs in my day. The ’90s were very excessive, very gluttonous very narcissistic. There was an utter disregard for personal responsibility regarding one’s health. Drug use and experimentation were rampant.  Alkalization, raw juice, and cleansing were still foreign concepts. The green juice of the ’90s was a Midori punch laced w xtacy.  All the club kids of yore are now juicing – the ones still alive and not incarcerated anyway. Pressed juice is the new drug of choice because it allows you to get high on your own supply and reclaim your beauty from the days of yore.
 
What makes your juice the craziest in the juice craze competition?
We use a lot of uncommon ingredients in our juices, like fennel, clementine, peppermint, dandelion, turmeric, and cayenne. We are also one of the few pressed- juice companies in NY that still use the Norwalk Juice Press. And we sing to our green juices. Music not only makes plants grow faster, but it increases the levels of enzymes and photonic energy in each juice.   
 
Club people come home from a night of debauchery and unhealthy choices; what should be waiting for them in their fridge?
A blood transfusion and an enema kit. Food and beverage choices should be anything vegan and raw, and cleanses are a way to purify your blood the natural way, and a lot more fun. They’re a reboot button for our bodies. The best foods for restoring liver function after a night or 20 on the town are dandelion, chicory, endive, and rocket. For Christ’s sake, make a shake. 

Here’s how to make a scrumptious and hearty detox smoothie:
4 – 5 x tomatoes
3 x stalks of celery
1/2 x spicy Pepper (optional)
1/2 x avocado
1/2 x bunch of fresh dandelion
1 medium sized endive
1/2 x the juice of a lemon
pinch sea salt 
 
And 2 ounces of vodka (just kidding)
 
Or just order our liver detox juice from TheSqueezeJuice.com.

So how does juice cleansing actually work?
Cleansing gives your body a chance to clear out the accumulated toxins that have built up over your lifetime. Digestion takes up most of the body’s energy, and when there are more toxins coming in than the body can immediately eliminate, the body stores these toxins to "deal with later." The only problem is that unless you radically improve your lifestyle, "later" may never come. Supplementing your diet on the regular with Squeeze juices, smoothies, foods, and snacks help to maintain that balance.
 
What’s in your products and are animals everywhere smiling?
We are 100% cruelty-free at The Squeeze – except in the bedroom, of course. Products contain fresh, live food prepared into raw gourmet meals. Our mission at The Squeeze is to make animals smile. I have a small focus group of 18 animals that live with me, and they cannot attest to that.
 
How did you come to do this, and do you still work in production?

After years of being an armchair activist, I decided it was high time to vegucate the world about the health benefits of a plant-based diet for themselves, the planet, and the animals. Jen Gatien and I created a reality TV series called The Squeeze, a show about healing, human connection, and the dirty politics of food – all taking place in the three fattest cities of America. 

What’s the advantage of the company being a truck instead of a store?
Visibility and presence at events and premieres, and allows us to keep our price lower. It also makes cruising vegan boys a lot more fun.  
  
Where can I find you and will there be a fleet of trucks in other cities?You can find our truck in Union Square West and 15th St. and Chelsea at 26th St. between the West Side Highway and 11th Ave. We will have 2 trucks in The Hamptons this summer, and will be expanding to Bethesda MD and Miami soon
 
What did you eat yesterday?
I am not big into solids. I started the day with an aloe water and a shot of ginger. Once you go ginger you never go back. It gives you loads of sustained energy without the post-coffee slump. I had a couple of I Have a Heart-On’s (leafy green with pineapple and peppermint), a Jeans I Wore In High School (oj, grapefruit and lemongrass) and a Don’t Cry Over Spice Milk (spiced nut milk) which I consume warm, because it tastes like mother’s milk, which if mammary serves me, is also warm. Never heat food or beverages above 118 degrees lest you expose it to enzyme degradation. For dinner I had a strawberry cheesecake (coconut meat-based "cheesecake") and a gazpacho.

A Fresh Wind Blows In Montauk

As usual the end of a Friday night had us at the Olympic diner on Essex Street, a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge – the yellow brick road to my BBurg Oz. It’s a couple eggs over easy amongst a club crowd of workers and late night revelers. No one at Olympic was discussing the Olympics. No one I know is discussing it. It’s all over my Yahoo! as I start to write today, mostly Enquirer-level tales of fat Olympians, or sexy ones, or "hurray for our team!" chatter. I don’t care what Michael Phelps’ mom has to say, although she seems like a nice lady. I’m beat up, burnt out, and shouldn’t even be here (on a couple of levels). I told my editor to expect me only Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through Labor Day as I want to get busy with being lazy for a few weeks. Yet here I am. 

The second level of not being here is I passed out behind the wheel of my car on the way home from Montauk Saturday night. Didn’t crash, but had a moment. I found a quaint little rest stop in the middle of nowhere on the LIE and used the fancy recliner feature and reclined for an hour. I woke completely refreshed and made it back to un-civilization. 
 
I should have stayed. Chiropractor to the in-crowd Lila Jean Wolf offered me a place to stay at her digs in Montauk. We had spent the hours before my DJ gig at the Montauk Beach House walking the shore and taking dips in the brine when we heated up. I didn’t understand much of what she was saying to her myriad of surfer friends. It was not only a language barrier but everyone was being so friendly and wonderful. It was like the hippie shit I remember from the Haight in the early ‘70s. Lila divides her time between her practice in NYC and out there and I tell you it’s not too far-fetched for her or even a landlubber like myself to consider spending a lot of time there. In a former lifetime me and mine would scamper out to Hither House, a homey hotel near the dunes of Montauk on winter Sundays and Mondays. We’d beachcomb with adventurous puppies and enjoy the food at local mainstays and the company of townies. 
 
Montauk has a certain light, a certain energy. Lila tried to explain it in Haight terms. She spoke of a "vortex” and an "octagon" and things like that that make more sense when catching waves is the only thing that takes you to Nirvana. Whatever the explanation it is magical. I’ve been to the lighthouse at the end of our country over a hundred times. If my own personal vortex or octagon or fate allows, I’ll go hundreds more. The thing about Montauk is it’s kind of far. You have to go way past the Hamptons and then back in time. Until maybe now.
 
Back in 2008 the Surf Lodge opened and too many thought it was a scene too far. But Surf Lodge managed to accomplish what no restaurant, resort, surfing, fishing or solitude could. It linked the scene in the Hamptons to the last town on Route 27. Like those covered wagons that betrayed the Native Americans, it’s never just one, and they just kept coming. My DJ gig at Montauk Beach House showed me a different Montauk than I remember. I got in early and saw the families in a feeding frenzy for pancakes, coffee, bagels and such. It was kids misbehaving badly because their parents were behaving badly, all for hot caffeine and starch. There were more of them than in years past and instead of the friendly "hellos" from the locals it was all seasonal types loud and rude.
 
Lila scooped me up at Whites where I stocked up on things I needed for my unexpected journey to that beach near Ditch Plains. The water was a rush hour subway ride of surfers paddling to not bang into each other positioning themselves for waves that won’t come till the hurricanes. A surfer dude said that Montauk was the 5 story walkup tenement of surfing … until the hurricanes come. People were learning from leather-skinned pros and every so often something bigger gave someone a ride and they talked in terms I didn’t understand. It was not unlike fisherman talking of big ones that got away or that they caught and gave them religion. I wanted to be a surfer dude but realized my age, abilities, and inclinations would be obstacles. I vowed to Netflix Point Break as a compromise. I had to leave go DJ by the pool.
 
Montauk Beach House be’s all it can be. It is comfortable, friendly, clean, and well planned. The DJ booth was professional and well situated. I opened for Andy Rourke (of the Smiths). The pool scene was fabulous. The design and feeling bordered on Miami but without the cheese. The place has only been operating a few weeks, opening with no less than Paul Oakenfold and my pal Kris Graham. Next week they’ve got mega-uber-superstar Mark Ronson. The James Bond of Dj’s. He even has the accent! The week after it’s Paul Sevigny. The bookings go forward to Sept 1 with Jesse Marco and Aaron James, although there is talk of programming as the weather allows.  Terry Casey who, along with Matt Thomas, books this wonderful resort DJ’s each week as well. He has done an amazing job putting this brand on the map. The delightful DJ Bridget Marie was on before me and was slated for a spot later in the day as well. She’s there each week also. She played some cute rock stuff to segue into my rock set. She’s a House Head but mixes it up and about in a refreshing manner.
 
Montauk Beach House is great but it also represents a quantum shift in the thinking of out East. It, like the Surf Lodge before it and Ruschmeyer’s, bring the good, the bad and the beautiful to the quaintness. Bottles can be bought and that in itself changes the game. Someone said "East Hampton has moved further East". There’s no place else to go unless someone gets permission to throw a rave in the Lighthouse parking lot. Montauk will be the last stand. The question is whether this ancient town will stand for it. I was assured that everything is being done to assure peace and quiet and respect for what has always been. The Montauk Beach House lives on the sight of what was a blight, an eyesore, and it brings jobs and cash flow and quality to the town. Yet the blue Bentley parked out front and the fast and furious Ferrari’s and other man mobiles I saw scattered here and there about town spoke of an unfamiliar wind. 
 
We’re not talking money. The money has always called this home or maybe the second home or 10th home. This wind blows conspicuous wealth at you and will manifest itself in a different crowd and a different decorum. I didn’t see anyone throw napkins in the air but it surely will happen.  "Change is Good" said the tourist T-shirt but that’s for panhandlers, not necessarily Montauk old school townies. Saturday there was an easy peace and I heard of no complaints. The bartenders served up delicious cocktails. I did my best and Andy Rourke a little better. The bikinis were filled with wonderment and somewhere to my right and back a little bit Lila Jean and her crew were waiting for the next wave. More on this tomorrow.
 
Sat – July 14th    Young Empire    Paul Oakenfold    Liquid Todd Kris Graham Owed and Operated    Terry Casey
            
Sat – July 21st     Postelles    Chainsmokers        Terry Casey
                
Sat – July 28th        Cobra Starship        Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 4th    Booga Sugar    Andy Rourke ( from the Smiths)    Steve Lewis (BlackBook Magazine)    Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 11th    Garret Borns (live)    Dj Vikas    Mark Ronson    Terry Casey
                
Sat- August 18     Capital Cities Live    Peter Makebish (bday)    Paul Sevigny    Terry Casey
                
 Sat- August 25  The Knocks     Krystal Klear Wilkies    Terry Casey
                
Sept 1st    Bella  (Ultra records)    Jesse Marco    Aaron James    Terry Casey

Terry Casey: “There Are Big Changes Happening in Montauk”

I don’t do The Hamptons. Although I have great friends that love the prospect of driving hours in a car through the cultural desert of Long Island to hang with people I strive to avoid in Manhattan while eating $50-a-pound potato salad, the idea has never appealed to me. I have done it and done it right, but I do remember spending a year there one night . I did design Dune at one point but never actually graced it with my divine presence. During the winter months, my clan treks out to Montauk to huddle around fireplaces and beachcomb. The water, the light, and the lack of crowds made me a believer years ago. I’ll be there come the cold. Apparently they have built this wondrous place called The Montauk Beach House and I have been told it’s a game-changer. My pal Paul Sevigny DJd there recently. When I was considering a story about Bastille Day and looking through my online emails and evites, I saw a big name pop out at me: Paul Oakenfold, one of the top DJs in the world. He’s doing a gig at The Montauk Beach House this Saturday, July 14th at 3pm. Take a look at the pics – it’s gorgeous. My pal Terry Casey is booking the joint and DJing as well. He called me about playing there come August so I asked him what the heck is going on.

What the heck are you doing out there? Who have you had already and who’s coming up and who’s coming to this place and …tell me all about it!
I GOT ASKED BY EVENT SOCIETY (RENE AND FRANCOIS) TO BOOK AND PRODUCE A MUSIC SERIES AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE WITH A GOOD FRIEND: MATT THOMAS. HE’S A BRIT AND WANTS GOOD MUSIC AND IS VERY KNOWLEDGEABLE. OWNER CHRIS JONES ALSO DESIGNED NIKKI BEACH, AND MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE FEELS LIKE A MIAMI HOTEL SO IT’S A NEW CONCEPT IN MONTAUK…RENE MANAGES OPERATIONS AND DOES IT WELL AT MONTAUK BEACH HOUSE; HE’S  THE OWNER OF EVENT SOCIETY. IT EXCITED ME TO DO AS I’VE BEEN GOING OUT TO MONTAUK FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS – I FEEL MORE AT HOME THERE THEN IN THE HAMPTONS. I USED TO DJ IN HAMPTONS CLUBS AND FEEL LIKE I SOLD MY SOUL. I STILL DO A FEW WILD HOUSE PARTIES IN THE HAMPTONS, BUT THAT’S VERY DIFFERENT TO THE CLUBS…THE CLUBS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE NOT MY THING. MONTAUK IS MORE LAID-BACK AND LOT OF SURFER CULTURE …THERE ARE  BIG CHANGES HAPPENING IN MONTAUK; PLACES LIKE SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S HAVE SET THE PACE…LOTS OF FRIEND HAVE MOVED TO MONTAUK AS THEY PREFER IT.

WE DID A SOFT OPENING WITH PAUL SEVIGNY LAST WEEK AND HE PLAYED A LOT OF GOOD ROCK, SOUL, FUNK ..HE ROCKED THE PLACE….A GREAT DJ AND REAL RECORD COLLECTOR PLAYS VINYL AND LOTS OF IT. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET HIM OFF THE DECKS. I GAVE UP AT 4AM, HAHA. I PLAY ROCK AND ELECTRONIC SO IT’S NOT ALL ONE STYLE …AND THE MUSIC SERIES WILL MIX UP BANDS AND DJS…ALL SUMMER…

FOR THE DAYTIME BY THE POOLS, WE HAVE DJS LIKE BRIDGET MARIE AND SARAH RUA. THEY PLAY MORE HOUSE, AFROBEAT, SOULFUL VIBES.I’ve rarely enjoyed the music out east during the summer.. you told me Montauk is different… tell me why that is.
MONTAUK IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU FEEL AWAY FROM NYC. THE HAMPTONS FEELS LIKE AN EXTENSION OF PEOPLE’S BAD BEHAVIOUR IN NYC…PEOPLE ARE STILL RUSHING AROUND…YOUR SUPPOSED TO BE CHILLING OUT…ON VACATION.

I GO TO PLACES LIKE BANZAI BURGER AND FEEL LIKE I’M AT THE BEACH OR IN THE CARRIBEAN.  BANZAI IS ALEX DUFFY AND STEVE KASUBA’S NEW PLACE OUT EAST. THE FOOD THERE ROCKS…I GOTO SURF LODGE AND RUSCHMEYER’S. THEY’RE ALL GREAT PLACES AND ALL VERY DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER.

Are the townies coming or is it a hipper visitor, vacationer, weekender?
ALEX DUFFY LIVES IN MIAMI AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE FROM MIAMI, NEW YORK, AND OUTSIDE THE US COMING IN. AND, OF COURSE, THERE ARE LOCALS.  ON WEEKENDS A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SICK OF THE EVENTS IN THE HAMPTONS ARE COMING TO MONTAUK FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT…IT’S THE SAME REASON PEOPLE IN MANHATTAN GO TO WBURG …THEY’RE OVER MANHATTAN AND ARE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING LESS CHEESEY.

At the end of the summer, will you try to continue this series in a NY venue? How would you describe the state of NYC clubland?
I’VE BEEN APPROACHED TO DO MORE EVENTS IN NYC AND MIAMI AND I HAVE PROJECTS IN MUSIC IN THE WORKS. I LIKE THAT THERE’S MORE CLUBS BOOKING MUSIC ACTS AND LESS MODEL PROMOTERS …BUT NYC NEEDS MORE BALANCED MUSIC AND SOCIAL CLUBS. I WISH THE FESTIVALS WOULD BOOK MORE LOCAL DJS…WE ARE BOOKING TALENTED LOCALS LIKE JESSE MARCO ,CHAINSMOKERS, DJ VIKAS, JULIO SANTO DOMINGO, KRIS GRAHAM, LIQUID TODD, SHORTY, AND MANY MORE..THESE GUYS ARE LOCALS AND TRAVEL THE WORLD.

Paul Oakenfold. Like …how do you swing a name like that?
PAUL OAKENFOLD AND YOUNG EMPIRES (LIVE) …YES, ME AND MATT HAVE CALLED A LOT OF FRIENDS TO GET PEOPLE TO PLAY ALL SUMMER FOR SMALL FEES IN A 200-400 PEOPLE VENUE BY THE POOL….WE HAVE A LOT OF ACTS COMING LIVE AND DJING….I DONT WANNA SAY WHO, AS EVENTS ARE INVITE- ONLY..  BUT EXPECT MORE HUGE ACTS. 

Donald Trump Buys Portrait Of Himself By Artist William Quigley at Hamptons Auction

Remember when we told you about an upcoming art show in East Hampton called The Pleasurists that was going to feature works by renowned artists William Quigley and Ben Moon, as well as an auction of such paintings as Quigley’s avant-garde portrait of Donald Trump (pictured)? Well, it’s no longer upcoming, it happened last Friday, and it was a wilder experience than anyone anticipated–even those who were aware that comedian Andy Dick would be running the auction.

There was great art galore, of course–Quigley first stepped into the spotlight in 1985 when he showed with Andy Warhol and has gained steam ever since, while Moon’s multimedia mastery extends to immersive, interactive experiences like ROKLYFE, which he performed to the delight of a sweaty, nice-looking crowd that boogied and bid into the night to benefit Guild Hall Center for the Visual and Performing Arts (I like using the full name). Having Russian Standard Vodka–one of my favorites for a proper New York vodka martini–as a sponsor may or may not have helped things along. 

And guess what happened? Donald Trump himself purchased his portrait. Well, in his high-tech, I-nod-and-it-is-done way, he was sending texts to uber-art collector Stewart Rahr to snag it on his behalf. The price: upward of $100,000, which goes a long way to supporting all the great cultural activities of Guild Hall. Seriously, you need art, music, and theater in your life. Places like Guild Hall have it. Take advantage.  

At the show, Quigley milled around sporting a t-shirt that said "Bullshit Bullshit Namedrop Bullshit," which is now my new guiding philosophy, while women wearing low-cut summer dresses and guys wearing whatever-who-cares-what-guys-wear bounced to the beat, celebrating summer, art, and life.

At first I was somewhat curious about why Trump would buy the painting. Did he pick it up because he didn’t like it, and he wanted to get it off the market so some ironic doofus can’t display it in his living room? No, after looking at it I think Trump genuinely likes it.  I do–it’s no Thomas Nast caricature, it’s a penetrating gaze into the eyes of a fascinating man. I wish I could have a Quigley rendering of my coupon some day. Ah well, he tends to do celebs like Shaq. Better work on my points in the paint. (I hear Quigley has an Ethan Hawke and a Mick Jagger hiding too.) 

Mark Borghi of Mark Borghi Fine Art, who represents Quigley, was also there, helping draw a batallion of Very Serious Art Collectors, along with three silly ones. There were a bunch of celebrities there too. Should I name them? Bullshit Bullshit Namedrop Bullshit. 

[Related: BlackBook Hamptons Guide; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Get Bitten at the Shark Attack Sounds Party in Montauk

Montauk has enjoyed a long, tenuous relationship with sharks. People are afraid of them, of course, despite the fact that being attacked by a shark while swimming is extremely unlikely. But they are also fascinated by their beauty, grace, and raw, primordial power. This fear and fascination likely stems from the true tales of Montauk shark fisherman Frank Mundus, who is widely believed to be the inspiration for the irascible character Quint in Peter Benchley’s classic novel Jaws. All these years later, residents and visitors to Montauk still can’t get enough of sharks, which goes a long way toward explaining the popularity of the annual Shark Attack Sounds party, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Friday, July 5, 2013 at Montauk Yacht Club

The party, which is being brought to the shark-loving masses by photographer Ben Watts, Milk Studios founder Mazdack Rassi, and high-profile event producer Jeffrey Jah, promises to be a wild, thrashing affair. DJ’s Zen Freeman, Carl Kennedy, and Chelsea Leyland will be on the ones and twos, and all the culinary and mixological treats of the Montauk Yacht Club will be available to keep the energy high and body temperatures cool. Expect plenty of beautiful people, pounding beats (the song of the summer may well be anointed here), and do-not-disturb signs on guest room doors as the night goes on.

Tickets are $46 per person and can be purchased here. And the best part? Well, the best part is that it’s an awesome party in a beautiful space with sexy people, but the second best part is that a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Montauk Playhouse. Let’s call it partying for a good cause. You’d be a monster to miss it. 

Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the fun goes on until late late late. Slather on the sunscreen and sleep it off on the beach on Saturday. 

[Related: Shark Attack Sounds Official Site; BlackBook Hamptons Guide; Listing for Montauk Yacht Club; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Skydiving And Rosé Delivered By Parachute: Day & Night Lands At Gurney’s Inn

There are four times this summer when several very peculiar things are happening in the Hamptons. Things like "having your chilled Dom Perignon rosé parachute-delivered 13,500ft by a skydiver," or "eating French toast bites alongside Angus beef sliders and lobster rolls." Sounds familiar? Then perhaps you’ve been to Day & Night in NY the Koch brothers’ sparkler and DJ-filled brunch party – and perhaps you’ll be very happy to hear: it’s taking over Montauk for the third year in a row. 

And while its fun munching on crispy calamari,  shrimp cocktails, and fresh oysters – it’s even better when you’re sitting beside the very place it all came from: the Atlantic Ocean, since the party’s set at Montauk’s oceanfront, homey hotel Gurney’s Inn, which has been around since 1926. Yes, when there were flappers. 

Day & Night is only happening Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, August 3rd, and Labor Day – so you’ve got to email party@dayandnightlife.com quick to get your seat by the water.

Get the inside-info on Day & Night, & follow Bonnie on Twitter here

Industry Insiders: Matt Shendell, President of Paige Hospitality Group

Two decades of experience in New York nightlife prepared Matt Shendell, president of Paige Hospitality Group, for the challenges of opening the Ainsworth, an upscale gastropub that has TVs for big games, but keeps them turned off at other times. The concept was a hit, and he’s keeping it going with other Ainsworth locations, as well as 121 Fulton in Tribeca. We chatted with Shendell to get the lowdown on his first job at a legendary nightclub and the delicate balance required to elevate the sports bar concept into something classier.

How did you get started in nightlife?

I got my first job working at Limelight, clicking at the door, in 1990. I started working there to make extra money, but I became enamored of the industry. I started doing some promoting, working doors here and there, then moved on to Danceteria. When I went away to college–I went to University of Delaware–I was supposed to go to law school, but I wanted to open a bar before I did that. So I opened a place called China White on 31st and Madison. It went really well. We blew up from there. We did a place called Shampu and kept going until we are where we are now. I always had an affinity for the business, and it went into the right direction. We winged it at the beginning but we had a nice following. On the opening night of China White in 1997 we had Derek Jeter, Marky Mark, and Cameron Diaz in attendance.

How did you learn how it all worked?

As far as operations go, we learned as we went. I don’t think we had ice when we first opened. Always plug your ice machine in two days before you open. Make sure there’s change in the registers. I learned everything on the fly. From there we opened a club called Nativa on 19th Street, and our first real food endeavor was called Dip, which was on 29th and Third. It was a fondue bar. Fondue had its moment for like a minute back then. The Food Network was there all the time. We turned that into the Hill.

And then you ventured out east?

We purchased Jet East in the Hamptons and made that Dune. For Dune, we partnered up with Noah (Tepperberg) and Jason (Strauss), the guys from Strategic Group who own Tao and Marquee. We made Dune the hottest nightclub in the Hamptons. Dune brought us to another level, and it was great to partner with those guys.

What’s the story behind the Ainsworth?

We decided in 2009 that we wanted to get in the big sports gastropub business. We got a space on 26th Street in Manhattan, which became the Ainsworth. That was when the whole brunch thing really took off. It turned Sunday football into a Sunday football brunch party, and now it’s the hottest party in the city. We made it a real food venue in the vein of the Breslinthe Spotted Pig, and the Dutch. You name it, we do it at the Ainsworth on 26th.

Is it all sports, all the time?

It’s more of an upscale gastropub with sports. The TV’s are only on during games. We turn them off at night. We’re not a regular sports bar. We want to have that dinner vibe that works for dates. Because of that, the Ainsworth has become one of the most successful bar/pubs in the city.

And you expanded from there?

We found a great spot next to the World Trade Center which became The Fulton. The legal name is 121 Fulton. We built a beautiful 6,000 square foot old world gastropub with lanterns and great design. We thought, let’s take the TV dining concept to the next level, let’s make the place beautiful but give it a sports duality. So we covered all our TV’s with antique mirrors and moldings. When you go to the Fulton and there’s not a big game on you don’t realize there are 40 TVs in there.

How did you find yourself in the men’s apparel business?

We decided to do something different. My right hand man and VP of the company, Brian Mazza, is very into fashion and style, and we are both into custom clothes. We realized that we had a very stylish crowd, so we thought, What kind of amenity can we offer them that would be a cool hook to our business? A bespoke, speakeasy-style, appointment-only custom men’s clothing shop. So beneath the Ainsworth we opened up Windsor Custom. Not only can you come to the Ainsworth, have a great dinner, and watch sports, you can also get measured and get bespoke clothes downstairs. It’s become a busy business, with custom suits and shirts. It’s a good amenity for our crowd, and right on brand for our clientele. We hired Ryan Grayson, who was a top guy at Ralph Lauren Made to Measure. Instead of a gimmick, it’s become a real business.

And you’re still active in the Hamptons, right?

After six years we got rid of Dune and opened up Southampton Social Club, a restaurant in Southampton. We partnered with the current owners, Ian Duke and David Hilty. What people really want to do in the Hamptons is sit outside for some alfresco dining and alfresco drinking, so that’s what we offer. Our first summer (summer 2012) was phenomenal. The food was great, there was great weather, and everything clicked.

And the Ainsworth brand keeps growing.

Yes, we wanted to expand the Ainsworth brand, and opened up Ainsworth Park. It’s 7,500 feet, with 65 televisions, all covered with mirrors. We do it classy, with oak molding and high-end details. Then we landed 3,500 feet in the lobby of the Hard Rock in Vegas for Ainsworth Vegas. We opened up Ainsworth Park and Ainsworth Vegas on the same day, September 5, 2012. That was a long day for me.

And you’re not taking a break any time soon.

We’re trying to open up The Chester, which is our newest brand. It’ll be a good brunch spot. But the goal now, in the next year, is to make sure these new places are great. I want to hone what we have.

You’re succeeding in a business where so many have tried and failed. What advice would you offer a young person looking to follow in your footsteps?

Stay calm and only make a move when your heart’s in it. Having a good team around you is important. You’ve got to learn to delegate. Hire great people and trust them.

Do you enjoy going out in New York? Then check out BlackBook’s New York Guide for all the best spots. Raise your nightlife game by downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android. And to keep up on the hottest openings and events in New York, Miami, Chicago, and LA, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.

Greetings From The Hamptons Hermitage

All due apologies to New York proper, but I don’t think I’m ever coming back to the city. It’s just that this country house tucked away in East Hampton is better in every conceivable way. I can let the dogs run around in the backyard. The beach is a short drive away. And the local bagel place offers a master class in breakfasting. If there’s something else I might need, I haven’t thought of it.

But Miles, you protest, summer is long gone, and tourist season with it. Far off are the days when the pool is open and the line at the mom-and-pop ice cream shop quite long. Well, EXACTLY. This place is in riot through the hot months; come autumn, it’s empty! I shuffle through the dead leaves in town, completely alone with my beautiful thoughts. An autumn chill whips at you from over the water, propelling flocks of migratory birds above.

The damned serenity of it, I tell you, is enough to fix a man in one home for the considerable future. Even if it’s his mother-in-law’s home. And he has to go out and use her credit card to pick up enough groceries for everyone (don’t worry, he’s allowed to buy beer). And the conversation is often about his job search. You know what? I think there’s a train back to Manhattan he can catch in ten minutes or so. He’ll see you soon.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Despite the Naysayers, It Was the Best Season Out East In Years

At the start of every season in the Hamptons a pall of despair, cast by bellwethers of doom, predicts that this will be the year it all falls apart. This will be the summer that the septic system in Montauk finally succumbs and fills Fort Pond with raw sewage. The year that the East Hampton Town Board pawns their power for a fat check from Ralph Lauren and absconds to Argentina. The year the piping plover finally falls victim to rising oceanfront real estate prices and cashes out of this world forever. And every season, Labor Day slips by with about as much ceremony as a wet fart, leaving locals slack-jawed and staring at each other with glazed eyes, like six-year-olds after a Pixy Stix binge. 

After breathless predictions that when the rising tide of excess, self importance, and big city ‘tude finally breaks the East End will be a desolate wasteland of empty Moët bottles, snapped stilettos, and the acrid smell of precision-engineered German rubber lingering over still-smoking patches in the westbound lanes of Route 27, one can almost hear the wah-wah of a muted trombone over the collective sigh of service and retail industry personnel headed to newly-deserted beaches with their pockets full of Benjamins. 
 
The Hamptons are embodied by hyperbole: big houses, big bank accounts, big events, and big personalities. Because of this, for the three months and change that the Hamptons are, well, the Hamptons, they personify everything we love to hate, and perhaps more tellingly, hate to love. These dour perennial premonitions stem from the fact that the Hamptons represent something special to everyone—whether it be as a home, an escape, a party, or another notch on the social ladder—and when it appears that something is about to change that sacred place we all hold dear in our collective unconscious, it kindles the irrational, almost xenophobic the-end-is-nigh fear that fosters overblown rants about zoning laws, the fluoridation of water, and insidious plots from the far right.
 
Truth be told, this season ranks as one of the best. After a few touch-and-go years, Montauk’s social scene emerged from its chrysalis as something far more fun, yet far less reckless, than the whistleblowers foretold. The Surf Lodge had a solid season with its summer concert series, with no repeat of the potential septic nightmares and stack of citations of last year. Montauk Beach House committed no heinous offences and certainly did not herald the undoing of the sleepy fishing village aura some in the town have tried so hard to preserve. We’re not about to embark on a discourse of the problems facing small scale commercial fisheries in this economy, but seriously, nobody is really complaining about having dingy and dying business give way to popular new sources of revenue, even if some visitors don’t know how to clean up after themselves. 
 
Moby Dick’s was a seriously chill, laid back spot that popped up this summer and somehow stayed somewhat under the radar, and when Swallow East finally went live, the place was a hit (the end of season employee party featured tattoo artists, and no one gets tattoos to commemorate an awful summer). And the first public incarnation of SUPERBURGER was an end-of-summer coup de grace. Trust us, we were there, glistening, greasy, fat, and happy, reveling in the August sunshine. Let’s not forget Momofuku: please, please come back next summer, we promise to eat so much pie.
 
Elsewhere, things were business as usual. Sag Harbor got a few new restaurants, the yachties kept doling out their owners’ loot on Main Street, chef Matthew Guiffrida found a new home with his restaurant Muse on the Harbor and David Lowenberg’s new venture The Bell and Anchor kept the North Haven celebrity quotient suitably stuffed. 
 
Heading south to Bridgehampton, the big news was that the Polo Classic toned down the spectacle, um, debacle, under the VIP tent into something that actually resembled a VIP tent and not a slightly damp, champagne fueled upscale bacchanalian frat party with a horse thing happening somewhere. 
 
With so much focus on Montauk, the two Hamptonian juggernauts—East Hampton and Southampton—were almost forgotten in the social media grist mill. Even though the venues change, it all really stays the same. Southampton Social Club kept things social, no big news there, and Nammos repping the luxe Mediterranean vibe in place of Nello’s made sure the Euro set had a place to spend 15 bucks on a beer.
 
Even in East Hampton, boozy brunches on Three Mile Harbor Road barely raised any eyebrows or tongue clucks from the village fun police and the jeroboams of rosé kept coming at Beaumarchais, but the real party, as revealed by the ladies at Guest of a Guest, was down at Indian Wells beach, where a week after their story ran, nervous nellies started reporting about nudity and people drinking hard alcohol on the beach. Well, um, that’s kind of what happens on a beach, in the summer, populated by young people who are mostly nude to begin with. What a shocker.
 
Now that another tumbleweed Tuesday has come and gone, plans for the postseason get underway.  The weeks after Labor Day aren’t quite like most people imagine, with sheets of plywood in short supply as business owners close shop and McMansions are locked down for the winter months. September is quite easily the best month to be out East, especially if you’ve been working the whole summer, you know, making hay while the sun shines. The ocean is as warm at it ever gets, the crowds are gone, and everything is on sale and up for grabs. It’s sort of an inside wink among those who slog, heads down, working through the summer months while the rest of the world is on vacation. Hotels have vacancy, tables are available for 7pm dinners almost everywhere, but it certainly isn’t desolate. It’s still the Hamptons, just a little bit more reasonable. It’s also far from over, the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton has yet to open its doors, and we are interested in what Tom Colicchio will be putting on the menu.
 
So where does this leave us? New stores and restaurants have opened, Montauk’s nightlife scene turned it up to 11 (but was considerate enough to turn it back down after 2am) parties were had, charities funded, share houses shared, and at the end of it all, there were fewer tears (and code violations) than in years past. Despite the traffic, the crowds, and the near-record level of DUI traffic stops, the sanctity of the Hamptons has emerged intact. Thanks for a great season. Now leave us alone, we have a beach to enjoy. 
 
For a complete rundown of all the hotspots, check out the BlackBook Guide to the Hamptons