Kings of the Night: Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg

Nur Khan

Ian Schrager is the godfather of nightlife, and Nur Khan is taking notes. Khan is the man behind the Rose Bar and Jade Bar, in Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel. Over the course of his celebrated three-decade-long career, he has operated a slew of exciting venues like Marquee Theatre, Wax, Sway, and Hiro, all of which paid homage to his true love: music. His establishments are rooted in the finest service alongside unique and inviting décor, which has led to quite a following of Khan aficionados, who rejoiced upon hearing about his new restaurant, Kenmare, in NoLita.

Haute Living: What nightlife venues do you currently operate?
Nur Khan: The Rose Bar and Jade Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, and I own a new restaurant that I just built called “Kenmare” in NoLita, which I’m excited about.

HL: When did you first become interested in a career in the nightlife industry? What about it sparked your interest?
NK: In 1990, I converted an old movie theater with a balcony into a live music venue/nightclub in Connecticut, called The Marquee Theatre. It held about 1,500 people and was kind of similar to the old Ritz in New York City. At that time, Ron Delsener was promoting Roseland Ballroom and The Academy Theatre. It was a very special time in the music industry; all these fantastic bands were breaking, such as Nirvana, Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc. These bands were making their first records and touring, so Ron and I would route them from Roseland and The Academy up to my venue. The shows were amazing, and I was having such a great time that I continued to open more bars like Wax, Sway, Hiro, Rose Bar, and now my restaurant Kenmare.

HL: Who taught you the tricks of the trade in this industry?
NK: I taught myself. I do things my own way. It’s a hospitality business. I make a very concerted effort to take very good care of my customers.

HL: What type of crowd do your venues appeal to?
NK: They appeal to people in the fashion, film, and music industries. My customers tend to be very musically literate and open minded, and embrace the fact that I may introduce them to new sounds. Music is kind of my niche, and I don’t mind going in a different direction from other people.

HL: The nightlife industry is always changing. How do you continually attract the attention of an A-list crowd?
NK: I have been taking care of these customers for a long time. I pay attention to their needs, I am very concerned about discretion, and really go the extra mile to look out for my guests, protect them if need be, and make sure they know they are always comfortable and looked after when they are in my hands and bars. My customers are loyal, and I very much appreciate the support they have always given me.

HL: There are so many choices for nightlife in NYC. Why should an Haute Living reader go to your venues?
NK: I like to think I provide a different environment than a lot of the others. Rose Bar for example is an extremely impressive design, with an incredible art collection. You don’t see that in other bars in New York—fantastic design combined with great music and a great crowd.

HL: Who is behind the designs of your venues?
NK: I designed all my venues personally, up until Rose Bar and Jade Bar, which were both designed by Julian Schnabel and Ian Schrager. Fernando Santangelo, who designed Chateau Marmont and the Raleigh Hotel, designed Kenmare.

HL: Describe your dream nightclub/lounge project.
NK: A rock-‘n’-roll venue, with the capability to do live shows spontaneously, maybe with a dance element to it. Cool underground lounges, and maybe do all of them under one roof, which would happen to be my own hotel. One stop shopping for all my guests if they are visiting from out of town, or just want a great place to hang out locally. Great rooms, great restaurants, and great bars, all in my own hotel, where my guests know they would have the utmost privacy.

HL: Tell us about the craziest moment that took place at one of your venues.
NK: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Out of respect to any parties that may have been involved, I will take those stories to the grave.

HL: Where was the last place in New York that you went for fine dining?
NK: I ate at Raoul’s restaurant last night. I love that place.

HL: Tell us something about you that no one knows.
NK: I moved to China for an extended period of time, and trained in Shaolin Kung Fu with the warrior monks full time—10 hours a day of eating, sleeping, and breathing martial arts. It was the best experience of my life.

HL: You never leave home without…
NK: My BlackBerry, my jewelry, and usually my snakeskin motorcycle jacket.

HL: Describe New York in three words.
NK: Exciting, inspirational, home.

HL: What’s your favorite pastime?
NK: Going on holiday with great friends to great places.

HL: What are your predictions for 2010?
NK: A good year that leads to great things.

HL: What is the biggest/most exclusive event that you have hosted?
NK: I’ve hosted probably every type of event you could think of, but possibly it was President Clinton’s birthday/Global Initiative weekend at the Gramercy Park Hotel, in collaboration with the Rolling Stones and Martin Scorsese.