The Night Kings: The Men Behind South Beach’s Hottest Nightclubs

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 Really, my mentor is my father. He taught me so much about it, but gave me a foundation for me to grow on my own with my own ideas.

Shareef Malnik ||| The Forge and Glass nightclub
“The Godfather”

HL What brought you to Miami?
SM I was born in Miami. After graduating law school, I lived in Europe and other places for a number of years. Then I came back to Miami because I realized we were on the verge of something great.

HL What made you decide to go into the nightlife industry, and how has it evolved or changed since then?
SM I really grew up in the nightlife industry; my family has been in it my whole life. It’s something that’s been in my blood since I was a child. Well, 20 years ago there was almost no nightlife here. Around 1993, with the start of Bar None – which I was a partner in with other notables like Jason Binn, Oliver Stone, and Sylvester Stallone – it was a time that was very interesting to be in the nightlife industry. Miami Beach was still underground; there weren’t a lot of places, but it was still very, very special, catering to jet setters, models, bohemians – it was an interesting mix of people. In the mid-90s, the New York-style dance clubs changed the face of the city a lot. Now it’s a market that’s saturated, not over-saturated, with great lounges, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants.

HL Who was your first mentor and how did he or she influence you?
SM Really, my mentor is my father. He taught me so much about it, but gave me a foundation for me to grow on my own with my own ideas.

HL How do you feel your club has contributed to the real estate boom? What positive effect do you think the club/nightlife scene here has had on growth in the market, and why?
SM When I was a kid growing up in Miami Beach, being bored out of my mind, I used to look around and say, “Why aren’t people here?” As a kid I would go to St. Tropez, and I would say, “Our beaches are nicer than St. Tropez; why does everyone go to St. Tropez?” There was no real estate boom, and the city was boring. That’s why I left. When the modeling industry came in and the nightlife industry started to cater to people who were down here by creating an interesting ambiance of entertainment, more and more people started coming down here. And I’ve heard the story a million times: People say they came down to South Beach for a week and it’s been three years and they haven’t left because they had such a great time. The place caught on fire because we were showing people a good time, and then people like Ian Schrager decided to invest money here. None of these people would have come without the nightlife industry.

HL Do you think people are willing to pay more for luxury real estate to be in the midst of the action?
SM There are those who come to Miami Beach just because of the real estate boom, but the majority of the people came here to enjoy the lifestyle, and they’ve bought into that lifestyle. For example, in South Point, where I live, people have chosen to live on this beach. It was always the coolest local beach. There are concessions on the beach, models hang out there, and it’s like the locals’ beach. Somehow everybody else got the same idea, and it’s because they like this lifestyle. Why would you buy a place next to Nikki Beach if you didn’t like it? The nightlife industry was here first and everything else grew up around it.

HL What was your most memorable real estate deal?
SM Well, my place is now the only private residence on Ocean Drive, and I bought it in 1994 for $1 million. Today it’s probably worth ten times that amount. I love my place on Ocean Drive.

HL What’s your favorite condo development?
SM Well, first of all I think the idea of The Setai is really amazing; to have that type of design and those kinds of services in a city like this is great. I also think the Murano, Icon, Continuum, and Murano Grande are all beautiful. They are the nicest buildings that you can find anywhere, but The Setai to me is a whole different level. It shows that if that can work in Miami then the sky’s the limit here. Actually, Aqua, too; I’m thinking of buying a place out there.

HL What is your favorite residential neighborhood?
SM To tell you the truth, South Point. That’s why I’m living here, and that’s why I’ve resisted moving. It’s just a perfect neighborhood.

HL What is your forecast for the real estate market over the next two to three years?
SM I don’t think the housing market is going to be affected, but there might be a lull in the condo market because there are so many condos coming.

HL What is your forecast for the nightlife scene over the next two to three years?
SM The only thing that could hurt the nightlife industry would be over-regulation. I think as long as the city and the residents understand and appreciate that it is the nightlife industry that fills up all the hotels on the beach and creates a place that makes people want to travel here, it will thrive. If you hurt the nightlife industry, you’re hurting the city.

HL Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SM I want to expand to other cities. I see myself in Las Vegas, New York, and Miami.

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