Interview With Matt Levine: The Hamptons Welcomes The Georgica

by CARSON GRIFFITH · May 21, 2009

Matt Levine is gearing up for a busy summer. While The Eldridge and the Hotel on  Rivington are still kicking it in NYC, his latest venture, The Georgica, is getting ready to open its' doors in the Hamptons this Friday. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about the new "eastbound getaway" which will host its' grand opening over Memorial Day weekend. Levine talks thinking outside the box, the essence of Georgica, and The Chrystie, of course.

Read below for our full interview with Mr. Levine...

Besides the Georgica pond being a gorgeous spot and a hot location, were there any other motives behind your decision to make this your choice for your next big move? I want to start off by saying, Georgica is not just a Matt Levine project, I was brought in to this by some friends that shared the same vision, and concept of what we felt the Hamptons needed, and together, through a shared concept, and vision – Georgica was established.

We have built an amazing family of guests at The Eldridge, and my goal in expanding out east was to cater to the lifestyle of our guests, gratify their needs – which come summer is an eastbound getaway. The Eldridge has created a luxurious, sophisticated and elegant environment while keeping true to the culture and trends of the Lower East Side, and my decision for the Hamptons was to mimic an environment of elegance and class while staying with the Hamptons' free-spirited, summer atmosphere.

People travel out east to escape the city; a place where you can sit back, relax, enjoy fine dining without unreasonable waits and listen to great music. But somewhere, somehow the Hamptons turned into an extension of NYC. Share-houses, bottle minimums, loud music and packed nightclubs with a younger demographic flood this once exclusive and laid back community. Georgica is bringing back an older crowd, great conversation, amazing cocktails, the countries best DJ's, and no bottle minimums- just table reservations - that is Georgica.

We heard True Talent will be dealing with the entertainment on Fridays, and club patrons can expect everyone from DJ Cassidy to Ruckus to Nick Cohen to be there as well. Who else can they expect to see on the turntables, and anyone you think they'll be really surprised or excited to see? Our Friday night rotation consists of DJ DL (Dalton), DJ Nick Cohen and DJ Mess Kid. Our Saturday night resident is DJ Mel DeBarge, with DJ Cassidy, DJ Josh Madden, Mia Moretti, DJ MOS, DJ Phresh and DJ Ruckus all mixing it up on various dates. These DJ's understand our concept, recognize our audience, and identify with the ambiance we are looking to create – they are all regular DJ's at The Eldridge.

Will there be any surprise or live performances from artists? We anticipate some surprise and live performances, as always, expect the unexpected. But at the end of the day, our goal is to avoid promotional ploys and gimmicks. We want to be consistent in our environment, which is what will differentiate us from all of the other venues in the Hampton. Our best entertainment is among our guests – great friends, great cocktails, and great weather.

In the past you have talked about the trend of specialty cocktails. Can we expect any specific specialty cocktails being served up at The Georgica this summer? Can you give us any hints at what they may be? As you may know, renowned Charlotte Voisey (Rose Bar, Dorchester) created my cocktail list at The Eldridge and she did a spectacular job. In the spirit of “mixing it up”, LEVANTeast (my restaurant opening up in The Hotel on Rivington) and Georgica will utilize up and coming mixologist, Jamie Gordon. His creativity and use of fresh fruit is amazing – perfect seasonal feel. We have also decided to use the local vineyards for our wine selection and fresh produce from the local Hamptons farms and markets.

What is your favorite summer time cocktail? Ahhhh. The Chrystie (for those of you who have been to The Eldridge, you know what I am talking about!)

What kind of customer service can patrons expect from The Georgica that other Hamptons clubs won't be able to offer or that the Georgica will take to a new level? Every venture that I attach my name and my company to has a singular priority – an elevated level of intimate customer service. Every establishment has the same product, but what sets them a part is their ability to personally satisfy. A bottle of vodka is a bottle of vodka, whether you drink it at Georgica or down the block. How you deliver it, how you present it, the way it’s purchased, and so on - it’s more about the customer’s experience that can alter everything about that same bottle or drink. The hospitality business has lost its hospitality. The Eldridge staff has done an amazing job with personalized guest attention and focusing on customer service. Guests of Georgica and LEVANTeast can expect the same level of outstanding customer service. The Hamptons should not be bottle minimums, table minimums, a tab being split 5 ways via a share house - NO - the Hamptons should be about comfort and atmosphere - you will not be pressured at Georgica.

Most nightlife owners and operators are dollar-motivated and in it for the quick buck, I am not. To me, it's more important about building a family-like guest base that supports the product. I am in this industry for repeat business. It's easy to get a guest to buy a bottle, but to have that same customer come every week and buy cocktails - that's more my style.

How exclusive will The Georgica be in comparison to other clubs in the Hampton’s? In comparison to The Eldridge? As I said, we are here to accommodate. And for many that includes reserved table service. At The Eldridge, our policy is reservation only. If 10 stunning women walk up to the door, or 2 guys wanting to buy 5 bottles - if they don't have a reservation, they aren't getting in. My goal when opening The Eldridge was to create an environment of friends. Since we have opened, we have been extremely successful in growing our family of guests through friends and their guests and so on. Using no promoters at all, each and every staff member has been an important part to our growth. I can walk into The Eldridge at any moment and point out each guest, whether a friend of mine, a friend of my manger, a friend of my bartender, and so on - it creates a great environment.

All that being said, we will have Naeem Delbridge (of The Eldridge), and James Birne (of Monkey Bar) bottle hosting - our crowd at Georgica will of course reflect the crowd of The Eldridge, but with the Hamptons, it gives us an opportunity to expand our philosophies, and meet new people. As I said, we are here to accommodate. And for many that includes reserved bottle service. For all those interested in making a reservation please email reservations@MLCreativeGroup.com, subject: Georgica.

What kind of big names can we expect to see at The Georgica this summer? I am not one to name drop, but feel free to check out The Eldridge press kit to get an idea of some of the guests we have had there

Let's take a break from the Hamptons for a second. So what does the future hold for you? Between The Georgica, The Eldridge, and the Hotel on Rivington project, you're so busy! And you're not even 30! Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years? Who knows? Although I am only 27, as I had mentioned earlier, I am not motivated by money, I am motivated by success and ambition. I like to think outside the box. To me there is no guideline or "how to” book (I actually want to write the book) and have been fortunate that people have believed in my creativity and thankful for the staff and team that helped bring my vision to fruition. I am extremely grateful of the staff we have put together at The Eldridge (most importantly, my General Manager, Jason Lawrence), we have created such an amazing work environment, everyone with the same goals, concepts, motivation as far as service quality, all while creating a very special atmosphere and environment for our guests. I am confident these accomplishments can carry over to Georgica, as well as LEVANTeast. Any future success relies on my co-workers and my staff - they bring my concept and vision to life.

LEVANTeast at The Hotel on Rivington is an extremely exciting project as well, something I have been working very hard on. With the growth of the Lower East Side, imagine grabbing a specialty cocktail at the LEVANTeast lounge, then grabbing an amazing French-American dinner in LEVANTeast restaurant, going up to The Hotel on Rivington Penthouse for an after-dinner cocktail, and then heading over to The Eldridge to cap your night off. And if you are off to the Hamptons for the weekend, go check out Georgica. Looking forward to an exciting summer! That’s the closest I can see ahead right now!

Be sure to stop by The Hotel on Rivington this summer – it will be the place to be in the city all summer, leading into Spring…especially when LEVANTeast opens up, going to be something truly special, an extremely exciting project that I am very proud to be a part of, and then be sure to cap your nights off at The Eldridge (we will be rocking all summer, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays).