Where do you go out? La Esquina, great atmosphere, great food, and great concept. Norwood, love the privacy, the different themes, the lobby bar, the restaurant, the lounge, and the quality of service service. Rose Bar, great vibe, great cocktails, and great design.
How would you describe yourself?I don’t really limit myself in terms of an occupation. I’ve done a lot of things in a very short amount of time, and that kind of energy allows me to constantly be looking for new projects while updating current involvements
I am motivated by goals, rather than monetary achievements, and I measure success in accomplishing my goals and bringing my concepts and ideas to life. The Eldridge has allowed me to create an environment and atmosphere that is really a description of myself. It is intimate while boasting a tremendous social scene, great music, great cocktails, great people, and a place to indulge your nightlife senses. Who do you admire in the hospitality industry? I have to start off by admiring my general manager, Jason Lawrence. He has created a very laid-back work environment, which demands the respect of our employees. When I walk into other venues, I feel as though you can feel the tension between the management and the staff. At The Eldridge, Jason has created a work atmosphere where we are all one. I also admire what Artan Gjoni of Norwood has done, creating a private members’ club for those in the arts. I admire his vision and what he has created within Norwood, as well as his interaction with his members and his focus on the experience of his guests.
What positive trends have you noticed recently in the hospitality industry? I see specialty cocktails becoming more and more common at various establishments. This time last year, there were only a handful of mixologist-created menus. It just shows that club and lounge owners are bringing a level of creativity back to an industry which has been dominated by bottle service.
How about negative trends? Honestly, I do not think there is much hospitality in the hospitality business. Although in every lounge’s business model, customer service is an emphasis, I don’t think many club and lounge owners really focus and follow that. Instead of customer experience and satisfaction, sales become a number one priority—not necessarily going hand in hand with quality service. It is easy to get a customer come in once, but to have them come back a few times a week, it really shows you are doing something right. At The Eldridge, we receive 10-15 thank-you emails a week complimenting the service and hospitality of our staff. We have created a family of guests, on a daily repeat basis. We understand it is a business, but we are in the business of people, of hospitality, not their wallets.
Something that people might not know about you? Besides that I enjoy long walks on the beach—just kidding—I am extremely approachable. Most club owners, lounge owners, and so on sit at their tables up in the VIP. At The Eldridge, most of the time I am at the bar interacting with our guests, connecting people with people, making introductions, et cetera. I like to introduce as many people as possible, build relationships, and create interaction between myself and guests.
What’s one new spot you haven’t been to but want to check out? I am not even sure what new spots have opened up. If anything, I’ve actually promised DJ Nick Cohen that I would stop by his new UES store in the LES.
What’s the most exclusive place in New York? I’d have to say The Eldridge. Our size lets our door policy be truly selective. We have created an environment of privacy and intimacy for our guests, and our door policy reflects that. Compared to many other venues, we don’t need or do filler, or the use of promoters. Everyone that walks through our door, we know, whether I know them, or an extension of my staff, they are an extension of The Eldridge family.
Why do so many industry people dig The Eldridge? That’s a great question. We have received amazing press and great reviews, but what is most important to me is that industry insiders truly respect and enjoy their time at The Eldridge. After reading through your last four Industry Insider interviews, each Industry Insider had mentioned The Eldridge as either their favorite spot, or where they planned on going the night of their interview. Industry insiders live within this world, they can be the harshest, most fickle, and pay attention to the most details, so when they enjoy their experience—it is truly a compliment. But I cannot take credit for that; my staff has created that environment. My staff has created The Eldridge experience. I am extremely thankful of my staff believing and bringing my concept to life.