LA Power Players: They Love The Nightlife, Part II

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These impresarios are responsible for the coolest clubs, lounges and restaurants inLos Angeles. Find out how they got their starts in the industry, what they’re uniquely bringing to the L. A. scene and where—besides at their own spots—they love to party.

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WHO: John Terzian and Brian Toll
THE COMPANY: The h.wood Group
THEIR ROLES: Co-owners
HOT SPOTS: The Peppermint Club, Delilah, The Nice Guy, Blind Dragon, Bootsy Bellows, SHOREbar

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John Terzian (left) and Brian Toll

JOHN TERZIAN

Did you ever imagine doing anything else? 
I wanted to do work with a sports agency, and possibly [work] in film. But, overall, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

What sets your new venues apart?
We are really watching and seeing the voids in the marketplace and filling them in a tasteful way. The Nice Guy and Delilah were created because there was a need for a cool restaurant/lounge that was not quite a club, but also not a normal restaurant. The Peppermint Club was created out of a need for a good live music home in L.A. We combined our bar/lounge ambience with an amazing stage, sound system and musician amenities to make up the perfect live music venue.

Is it challenging that other global nightlife destinations are now finally heading here?
It is a combo—they are coming here because Los Angeles is quickly becoming the hub for everything. It is challenging, but also good to have more business [develop] as it keeps us
on our toes at all times.

What sets your places apart from other nightlife destinations in L.A.?
We would never refer to ourselves as ‘nightlife people’—we are in the business of hospitality
and people. h.wood Group has the most longevity in L.A.

Is there a formula to creating a successful venue that has longevity?
There is no formula. We have found success by being true to our close friends and family. Everyone and everything else follows.

BRIAN TOLL

How did you get your start in the nightlife industry? 
I started throwing parties in high school and college, and started doing it professionally right after I graduated.

Did you ever imagine doing anything else? 
I actually never imagined doing this. I always wanted to work in hospitality, but never really saw myself working in nightlife. I sort of fell into the industry.

How would you describe Los Angeles’ current nightlife situation? 
I think, for the first time in a long time, the nightlife in L.A. is actually better than in N.Y. It seems like the N.Y. guys are coming to L.A. now because the market is booming.

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Bootsy Bellows

What is your idea of the perfect night out? 
I like going to dinners with my friends and grabbing drinks after. I love being able to eat at places like Dan Tana’s and then [head] over to Delilah for drinks.

Do you have a personal career achievement that you’re proudest of?
I think selling part of the company to Hakkasan [Group] a couple years ago was a really proud moment. It showed that big companies in other cities took notice and saw what we were doing, and believed in us being able to accomplish more.

How important are celebrities to what you do? 
Extremely important. Being in L.A., I think the whole city sort of revolves around celebs, so having them in the building is very important.

How do you cater to your VIPs?
We’re really secretive and [cater to our] celebs and VIPs who want to be protected. We walk them in back doors and keep the paparazzi away from them.  They know they can text us directly and not be bothered by people. We also have a no-photo policy inside of The Nice Guy and Delilah so they are protected.

Is there a formula to creating a successful venue that has longevity? 
It’s a combo of design and [the] crowd and what we do to [distinguish] our venues. We really handpick our crowd and make sure we have great people in the building.

How would you describe L.A. in three words or a phrase? 
La La Land.

How would you describe what you do in a phrase? 
I’m basically a personal concierge for our clients and celebs.

If you’re not working, where are you hanging out in L.A.? 
My living room, watching sports.

WHO: Richie Akiva and Darren Dzienciol
THE COMPANY: The Butter Group
THEIR ROLES: Co-owners
HOT SPOT: 1 OAK

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Richie Akiva (left) and Darren Dzienciol

DARREN DZIENCIOL

How did you get your start in hospitality?
I started going out in L.A. at a young age. One night, I met Guy Starkman who, at the time, had a club called Guy’s. He and his crew—which included Steve Tisch, Kurt Rappaport, Scott Stuber and Peter Berg—nicknamed me ‘The Kid’ for being the youngest and hungriest one in the crew.  Back in its day, Guy’s catered to the who’s who of L.A. and was the toughest door to get into. After one of the longest runs in L.A. nightlife, it finally needed someone to breathe new life into it.

[When I was] 21, Guy approached me and offered me an opportunity to be his partner and come up with a new concept for the place. Guy’s, once again, became the sexiest place in L.A. and I was honored to be the reason for its newfound success.

Do you have a personal career achievement that you’re proudest of?
Signing the lease to  1 OAK. Acquiring the space from Key Club was not any easy venture and took a tremendous amount of hard work, time and effort. We signed a 20-year lease because we are here to stay for the long run.

What is your idea of the perfect night out? 
A concert at The Hollywood Bowl, followed by a party at 1 OAK or my other venue, Beacher’s
Madhouse. For a more mellow night, dinner at Dan Tana’s, followed by a movie at The Grove or iPic and [maybe] the Spare Room in the Roosevelt Hotel.

Did you ever imagine doing anything else? 
I would love to expand within the hospitality industry from nightlife into hotels by designing and owning my very own boutique hotel.

What is your greatest indulgence? 
I love jewelry—watches, vintage bracelets, cufflinks. I am also getting into classic cars.

RICHIE AKIVA

How did you get your start in hospitality? 
I grew up part of two different worlds, and that’s what ended up shaping me. On one side, I was private schooled with a lot of sons and daughters of New York’s who’s who while, on the other hand, my dad was in the retail business across the Bronx. People like Fat Boy Slim, Run DMC, LL Cool J were always at my dad’s shop. I got involved in music a bit and then started a clothing line that grew faster than anyone could have expected. One day, [ journalist] Nancy Jo Sales wanted to write an article about me and my friends and what we were doing at the time. She followed us for a week. The night the article came out, everyone in town started going to the club we were at, Lot 61. Even Diddy came in one night and we had the best time. On his way out, he told me he wanted me to do his birthday party. After that day, Lot 61 was the number one N.Y. club to get in[to]. I realized I wanted to dedicate my whole life to the nightlife industry.

What made you decide to conquer L.A.? 
I love L.A. as a city. I had lived there for a while back and forth when I opened Butter. I was friends with Darren for a long time, who was in the nightlife industry in Los Angeles. When he called me about bringing 1 OAK to L.A., we decided the only way we could do it was if we found the perfect venue—and we did. It also happened to be perfect timing.

What sets your L.A. location apart from your venues in other cities?
I always try to see what a city is missing or what the people in that city are craving, and then incorporate that into the design. 1 OAK is now in Maldives, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Las Vegas—and expanding to Dubai, Tokyo and London. Each of them [has] the exclusivity of the 1 OAK brand, but all have―or will have―their own identity. What works well in Los Angeles may not work in Dubai and vice versa.

What sets your place apart from other hospitality destinations in L.A.? How is it unique?
With 1 OAK L.A., we created a one-stop shop, which ultimately separates us from the rest. It was important for us to be more than just a nightclub with cool DJs and bottle service. Instead, 1 OAK can house anything from intimate concerts—because of our stage setup and mezzanine level—to award show after parties or corporate dinner parties that can be fully catered onsite, since we also have a full kitchen. We have a green room and private entrances for celebrities. It really is a unique space. Not only that: the billboard on our rooftop is ours so, if your party or concert is here, you can literally have a billboard on the Sunset Strip!

1Oak Los Angeles
1Oak Los Angeles

What is your idea of the perfect night out? 
I have the most fun when I’m out in Europe or when I’m not working or entertaining. I would say a nice bottle of wine, great food. And maybe the perfect night out is actually just a night in.

Do you have a personal career achievement that you’re proudest of ?
My two most memorable moments [were] when I did the after party for the N.Y. Yankees World Series in 2009 and the after party for the N.Y. Giants Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Everyone from each team came. Those were historic moments for 1 OAK, and [for] me personally, being a born-and-raised New Yorker.

Is there a formula to creating a successful venue that has longevity?
Hard work, dedication, staying relevant and being passionate about what you do. It’s important not to stand on the sidelines, but be present [in] your business. Also, building a great team of people who share your passion because nothing can be done single-handedly. Lastly, know what that city is craving or what you think it is missing at the time and then give that to [the customers].

What is your greatest indulgence? 
Food! When I travel around the world, I always try to find the best places to eat and unique food experiences. My grandmother taught me how to cook when I was about five years old so my love for food started there. It’s the reason I own restaurants!

WHO: Costas Charalambous
THE COMPANY: SBE
HIS ROLE: President of Nightlife
HOT SPOTS: Nightingale Plaza, The Library, Fourteen,Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails, Hyde Lounge at Staples Center, Doheny Room, Create Nightclub, Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails, Hyde Lounge at Staples Center, Skybar

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Costas Charalambous

CHARALAMBOUS

How did you get your start in the nightlife industry?
Like most young guys, I was trying to supplement my monthly income. I worked all positions at bars, from bartender to security, and learned all aspects [of the industry]. I started working overseas in Europe and [discovered] their type of bottle service, which is personal bottles. It was cheaper to buy a bottle and keep it with your bartender—they store it for you with your name on it and you develop a loyalty with your bartender and favorite spot. In L.A., we pioneered our own version of bottle service. My transition to the U.S. was a similar story: [SBE CEO] Sam Nazarian was always out at different clubs and we would cross paths often. We also worked out at the same gym and would play basketball. He always would talk about opening a nightclub one day. Months went by and, one day, Sam found a location, called me and said “Let’s make it happen.” That was 2003 and the bar was Coconut Teaser, which is where Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails is today.

Could you ever imagine doing anything else? If so, what?
Perhaps if I could start all over, I would go into medicine. I like helping people. When I was starting university, I was considering two career paths—kinesiology or a CPA. Both of these interests are still a large part of my day-to-day life.

Tell us about SBE’s new venues. What sets them apart from what you’ve done before? 
Hyde created a trend where people dine, lounge and party in the same room. Doheny Room is the new evolution of that. Then there’s Nightingale, a nightclub which implements the newest technology and concepts of custom décor. With the acquisition of Morgans Hotel Group, our portfolio has also grown.

How hands-on are you with the creative process? 
I’m really involved in all aspects of the business. I love to be creative. I have a knack for knowing what will function best in a space and an eye or aesthetics and challenge our designers to adapt to nightlife.

What sets your places apart from other nightlife destinations in L.A.? 
We listen and talk to the new generation and implement new concepts to keep our guests engaged and interested. We catch on to trends and know what people want before they know they want it.

How involved is Sam Nazarian with the nightlife division? 
Our CEO is involved with all aspects of our businesses. He always feels that nightlife is an important part of the business, overall, because it keeps us in touch with the new generation and keeps us relevant. The incredible part about Sam is that he has a full 360-degree view.

How would you describe Los Angeles’ current nightlife situation? 
There are a lot of newer groups from other markets coming to Los Angeles because they see the potential of what we have here. There are still some limitations that Los Angeles has that Las Vegas, New York and Miami don’t have—specifically, closing at 2 a.m. There’s definitely a [desire] in the market for that to change. L.A. nights are a one or two stop equation because there is not enough time in the night for more.

What is your idea of the perfect night out?
I have a system: start soft and elevate. Without the proper warm-up, you won’t be psychologically ready. When I am in L.A., I like to start with wine and a beautiful dinner at

Doheny Room before I head to Nightingale and finally finish at Create. When I am in Miami or Vegas, I like to watch a game or concert at one of our Hyde locations in the T-Mobile Arena or American Airlines Arena, then head over to Hyde Bellagio or Hyde Beach in the SLS hotel.

How would you describe what you do? 
I am a bit like the conductor of an orchestra. A maestro can’t play every instrument perfectly, but he has the gift or sense of timing and ability to pull performances out of talented musicians in order to create a symphony.

When you’re not working, where are you hanging out? 
You can find me at home with my family or managing stress and frustrations at the gym.

What is your greatest indulgence? 
I break plates to celebrate. It’s the best—it’s exciting. There’s nothing better than breaking plates!

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