The Godfather of Nightlife

Another nightlife trend that Schrager is choosing to buck is overpriced bottle service. “I think that when you have bottle service, although you may make more money in the short run, you sort of eliminate a lot of really great people that may not be able to afford that, or merely don’t want to spend their money that way,” he says. “We just thought that a better way to make a really great party would be to include a wide variety of people. We didn’t want everyone to be all the same—not all rich, not all young, not all old. And that mix really brings the energy. We thought that bottle service would make it very uniform. And honestly, I believe that it has sort of been the undoing of the nightclub business.” That’s quite a bold statement coming from the man who can be credited as one of the inventors of the modern-day industry. But Schrager has always been a bold man.

“The nightclub is a completely different business than what it was. You know, when I did a nightclub, it sort of culminated in owning the nightclub. It’s completely opposite now. Now nobody owns anything. From club to club, now somebody owns it, someone else does promotions, with a different entity in charge of the door. It’s not so spontaneous, not so innocent anymore.” He credits this downgrade to the plethora of regulations that are the result of development. “Some of it is, of course, necessary, but I think the costs of doing a nightclub have escalated so much that young people can’t do it, even though it can be a young person’s industry.”

While Rose Bar is still one of the hottest spots of Gramercy Park Hotel, we would be remiss not to mention the hotel’s venue that has been stealing all of the headlines so far in 2010, Maialino. Danny Meyer’s new Italian restaurant, which is advertised as a Roman trattoria, officially opened back in November to all the expected hoopla that one would expect from an Ian Schrager venue—restaurant, hotel, nightclub, or otherwise—with the likes of Anna Wintour and Alain Ducasse seated at some of the best tables in the house. Chef Nick Anderer did not earn immediate rave reviews, but is clearly finding his groove as the dust settles and the crowds keep the reservation list booked.

It is while discussing Maialino that Schrager confirms some rumors that have been floating around the NYC scene. ““We have a lot of exciting things planned this year for both the hotel and Rose Bar,” he says. “I think it is great to be involved with Danny Meyer. I actually think he is the best restaurateur in the country. I’m planning a new restaurant up here on the roof that Danny will be doing. Basically the idea is to provide an alternative to what he is offering downstairs, creating a reason for people who need something different to come up here. It will be superb, high quality food served over a charcoal grill, but much less expensive. So this idea of providing access to really great food but at a less expensive price is very exciting to me.” There you have it: rumor of a rooftop restaurant confirmed.

As for what we can expect from this king of all club kings at Rose Bar, he starts to name names about who might be popping up in 2010. “We are planning some midnight sessions where some really great entertainment will come in unannounced, quite by surprise.” Some of the past surprise guest artists that have performed at the Rose Bar Sessions include Velvet Revolver, The Cult, Jane’s Addiction and The Black Keys, to name a few. “So it will be like you are at the bar having a drink, then you turn around, and there is some big name entertainer like Slash performing some acoustic set. We want it to be like they sneak in, do the set, and then mysteriously disappear, just to sort of keep everything interesting, dynamic, and ever changing,” he says.

“These new ideas will be crossed with continuing to update the hotel, making various improvements as we go along. It’s very much a work in progress. I don’t think we are ever complete to a level of ‘done’ that we can just walk away. We are always evolving things.”