Sugar Dining Den & Social Club
Guilty Pleasures: Fantasy Football and Baseball Junkie
Banner Moment: Stole studio time from the Ramones with his 80s Brooklyn rock band, Intruder
To sit in front of the gravel throated Brooklyn street fighter who once brought Madonna to a little unknown club (in 1985, a place called Fantasy Island) and listen to him wax on his business and his one and a half year-old venue is to experience a contradiction in terms that goes back to the school yard. In truth, his diminutive stature is hardly noticeable compared to his larger than life persona, and the latter, or something about the combination, make him a lightning rod for action. He got passed over for kickball as a kid, so he used the time to hang with the cheerleaders. As a teen, he was the guy banging on drums with Bon Jovi opening for him (that’s right, he headlined for Bon Jovi). From there, he held the cards as promoter at other Brooklyn-based clubs before landing at famed Studio 54 and eventually the stately Garden City Hotel, where he rose through the ranks over seventeen years to become Vice President of Sales and Marketing. This once-rocker-turned-nightclub-promoter-extraordinaire holds forth at Sugar now. It’s all the things a good nightclub should be: Exciting scene, glamorous people, hip music. But it’s been made in the form of what a good Long Island nightclub needs to be: The newly fashioned restaurant lounge. He aims his matter of fact, incisive worldview at himself as easily as at others, and makes no apologies for his formidable, restless ambition.
The room is the star. And the crowd is the star. The talent, the DJs, they come and go…
T he A-List crowd wants to go to dinner… A 28-year-old girl doesn’t want to come to work hungover and tell people she was at a big nightclub. She wants to tell her co-workers she was out to dinner. She may still be dancing on the tables during or after, but as far as she’s concerned, she’s out to dinner. The future of the nightclub on Long Island is gone. You have to have food. And the food side is unforgiving…one mistake and it’s all over.
The combination of the hard work and the glam and party (and the drama of it all) may keep me young, but also makes me old. As a kid, I was very shy and being short was a challenge. I wanted to be the guy that worked the hardest; I won the Little Bigman Award in 9th grade. (You’re getting your share now, Brian.) This business never sleeps. It takes all week to produce a night. Months for New Year’s Eve. It’s all preparation.
I’m not always in the moment. My mind is three steps ahead…the clock is always ticking. To some, I’ll always be the club guy, no matter what else I do-it’s the sexier thing-but I’m an ideas guy.
When I started, I didn’t want to get into nightclubs… I never thought it would last, but it got bigger and bigger. I love this business. I love the show. But it’s really about marketing—I live on Facebook, there’s nothing like that dialogue with the customers, learning how they think and what they like. Early on, Ron Delsener was an idol, everyone knew his name and having it at the end of a radio spot or ad gave the event instant credibility. I do the same. People would say I never met a camera or mic I didn’t like—and it’s true—I love the press. No one can say anything about what I’m doing as well as I can say it myself. But I’m most proud of the people who work for me. They’re always glad they do and they always want to come back if they leave. Because they have fun. It’s hard to keep them motivated, but I always want my people having fun…if the employees aren’t having fun, the clients won’t.
(excerpt from live interview)