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

Roman Jones ||| Opium Group (Opium, prive, Mansion)
“Roman’s Empire”

HL What brought you to Miami?
RJ My college sweetheart was from Miami, and at the time everyone was raving about Miami. The flash, the style and the bass music were bringing an eclectic crowd to this city, and I was one of them. I fell in love with the city, and after graduated college I decided this town was for me.

HL What made you get into the nightlife industry, and how has it evolved or changed since then?
RJ Like most people, I caught the South Beach bug in the sense that I liked to go out and have fun. A close friend of mine, Francis Milon, had opened The Living Room nightclub, which I was frequenting often. He used to contact me almost every night to visit him at the club, which eventually led me to become a vocal non-partner. It was then that Francis and I decided to do something together, so we launched a restaurant south of Fifth Street, a new, uncharted area that at the time was vacant. From opening night it was a monster social scene, where people were fighting the crowd for a drink at the bar.

HL Who was your first mentor and how did he or she influence you?
RJ My parents divorced when I was very young, and I was raised primarily by my mother. She was working two jobs, one in the music industry and one in the nightclub industry ,to support us. The fact that she sacrificed herself for her child really instilled the respect of hard work. My mentor is my mother.

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?
RJ I believe there are two major components to building a city: food and entertainment. Many of the people coming to Miami are from cosmopolitan areas, and they demand entertainment that is at a cosmopolitan level. So I had expectations to live up to; we had to provide the same caliber of nightlife sophistication that they have in New York and Paris, and I believe we have mastered it beautifully.

HL How do you keep your club at the top of its game when there are so many coming and going on a regular basis? What do you do to ensure that it is offering something that can’t be found everywhere else?
RJ I believe there are two things that have separated us from the rest. The first is hard work, because there are no shortcuts in life. The second is the fact that we live and breathe this business. I am very fortunate because I enjoy what I do, every night.

HL Do you think people are willing to pay more for luxury real estate to be in the midst of the action?
RJ Absolutely. There is no difference between North Miami Beach and South Beach – the value is based on the vibe, the environment. Miami is very unique, and when I travel and return home I realize how much I love this town.

HL What was your most memorable real estate deal?
RJ In Europe, we had to buy a commissary; we had to buy some land. I went to the meeting and it was two Polish guys. I said, “How much do you want for your land?” They shouted, without even seeming to understand anything, “A million dollars!” I said, “Wait a minute – the place next door to yours sold for $20,000, and the place next to that went for $30,000.” They said, “Yes, but you’re American; we want a million dollars.” Obviously I didn’t make that deal.

HL Where do you live?
RJ I live in an area that is an old residential retreat {Pine Tree Drive}, just on the border of South Beach.

HL What has been your proudest achievement?
RJ My proudest achievement has definitely been the opportunity to build a company from scratch that is a lifeline for many people.

HL What is your favorite residential neighborhood?
RJ Here [Pine Tree Drive] – it’s a stone’s throw from everything, yet it’s residential. It’s also very safe, and quiet. The key here is the lot size. I’d much rather live in a place with a large lot than a place with a big house on a small lot.

HL What is your favorite condo development?
RJ I’d have to say The Angler’s, because I love when properties are restored to something natural.

HL What is your prediction for the real estate market over the next two to three years?
RJ Honestly, I don’t think the rest of the world offers all the components that Miami does. People are constantly leaving Europe, South America, New York and they are all coming to South Florida. This influx is the driving force behind the real estate and entertainment industries in Miami.

HL What is your prediction for the nightlife venues over the next two to three years?
RJ That we continue to do well. Honestly, I think that we are essentially the think tank and Silicon Valley of nightclubs. Everyone comes here to get the experience firsthand, and then it is duplicated elsewhere. Miami is the tropical cosmopolitan city.