Kings of the Night: Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg

Scott Sartiano & Richie Akiva

Richie Akiva, a New York native, earned his nightlife stripes as a literal club kid who discovered and developed his passion for creating what he calls “a stage for people to let go of their worries and stress and celebrate their life and all that New York City has to offer.” While originally from North Carolina, Scott Sartiano has called New York home for nearly two decades. After graduating from Columbia in the late 1990s, he was pulled by “the bright lights and the big city,” and found himself thriving as a promoter, which is where he met Akiva. The two partnered in 2002 to open Butter, which is still thriving—quite the lasting power in a fickle industry. In 2007, they parlayed Butter’s success into 1Oak, which they own and operate along with partners with Jeffrey Jah and Ronnie Madra.

Haute Living: What nightlife venues do you currently operate?
Richie Akiva: Butter on Lafayette Street and 1Oak (One of a kind). We are opening two new venues in 2010—Butter NC, an 8,500-square-foot nightclub in Charlotte, North Carolina; and a 50/60s-inspired supper club in the legendary Nell’s space on 14th Street.

HL: When did you first become interested in a career in the nightlife industry?
RA: At a very young age, which happens when you grow up in New York City.
Scott Sartiano: I first became interested when I was offered a job as a promoter at Life nightclub right after I graduated college. Learning the nuances and the science behind the business really sparked my interest and continues to intrigue me.

HL: What type of crowd do your venues appeal to?
SS: We appeal to every type of crowd, but only the best of the best can get in.

HL: The nightlife industry is always changing. How do you continually attract the attention of an A-list crowd?
RA: Scott and I constantly stay ahead of the game and try to be the ones to lead change within the industry. Take, for example, Butter Restaurant, where we created a notable eatery with a celebrity-filled lounge below. I stick to my gut and trust my decisions, and it always pays off.

HL: There are so many choices for nightlife in the city. Why should an Haute Living reader go to your venues?
RA: My opinion is biased; however, our clientele continue to return to Butter because of the amazing food coupled with a night out on the town without having to leave the venue.

HL: Who is behind the designs of your venues?
SS: Steve Lewis designed Butter and our new Supper Club on 14th Street. Roy Nachum designed 1Oak. Richie always adds a lot to the mix and provides design input at all of our venues.

HL: Other than your own, what is your favorite club/lounge ?
RA: Les Caves du Roy in Saint-Tropez, Jimmy’z in Monaco, and Palais Club in Cannes.
SS: Les Caves du Roy in Saint-Tropez, BC in Paris, and Amnesia in Ibiza.

HL: Describe your dream nightclub/lounge project.
SS: I’m building it right now.

HL: Tell us about the craziest moment that took place at one of your venues.
RA: There have been numerous moments where I have had to step back and think to myself, “wow, is this really happening?” It would be impossible to choose a single experience.
SS: The thing about our venues is there are there are always crazy moments but most of those go unpublished. We like a level of secrecy for our customers and ourselves.

HL: Where was the last place in New York that you went for fine dining?
RA: Il Mulino in Greenwich Village.
SS: Morimoto.

HL: Where would we find you on a Friday night?
RA: 1Oak.
SS: If I’m not at Butter, you can find me at 1Oak.

HL: Tell us something about you that no one knows.
SS: I can’t, because then someone would know it.

HL: You never leave home without…
RA: A back-up battery for my BlackBerry.
SS: My BlackBerry.

HL: Describe New York in three words.
RA: Nothing like it!
SS: Everything and more.

HL: What’s your favorite pastime?
RA: Baseball and basketball.
SS: Watching football with friends.

HL: What are your predictions for 2010?
SS: I believe that things are getting back to normal, both with the economy and everyone’s mindset. We have already seen a differencet in vibe and business since January 1, and we believe it can only get better.

HL: Who taught you the tricks of the trade in this industry?
SS: Steve Lewis taught me a lot, and then I learned through my own trial and error.