Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last—5 Years Later, The NICE GUY Is Still On Top

The Nice GuyPhoto Credit: Elizabeth Daniels

For five years, premier Los Angeles-based hospitality brand, h.wood Group‘s, The NICE GUY, has arguably remained the most exclusive and covetable destination in Los Angeles. Attracting A-listers on any given night of the week and with a strict ‘no photo’ policy and mouth-watering menu, the brand has developed a fool-proof restaurant that keeps locals, visitors, power players and celebrities coming back for more. As we approach its impressive five-year milestone, it’s clear that The NICE GUY has earned its staying power for years to come.


Photo Credit: h.wood Group

To celebrate the occasion, the team hosted a special, week-long event with Mod Sélection Champagne that attracted an impressive crowd to pay homage to the hot spot. Spotted hanging out enjoying dinner, drinks and a lively scene included Kendall Jenner & Kourtney Kardashian, Lukas Sabbat and Jaleel White. Additionally, the iconic location served as the backdrop of Drake‘s most recent music video with Rick Ross, “Money in the Grave,” where h.wood Group co-founder John Terzian even made an appearance. The legendary Anna Wintour and bombshell Alicia Vikander also took to the space to film for Vogue.

Kylie Jenner

Photo Credit: h.wood Group

In honor of the occasion, we’re sitting down with h.wood Group’s co-founders, Brian Toll and John Terzian, h.wood Group Partner & VP of Business Development Adam Korall, h.wood Group partner, Tony LaPenna, as well as Designer of Built, Inc., John Sofio,  to discuss the milestone and why nice guys don’t always finish last:

HL: What’s been your key to success in having the NICE GUY remain one of the most sought-after destinations in all of Los Angeles?

Brian Toll: I think the key is that we stay true to who we are, keeping it semi-private and not allowing photos. This allows celebrities to really enjoy their time and the exclusivity inside. We obviously are constantly tinkering with food and drinks to stay on top of that well, but I think we’ve stayed true to our original concept.

Adam Korral: It’s a labor of love for us. We see this as being the place that started it all for us, and at the core of The NICE GUY’s beginnings were our closest peers, family and friends. They have truly supported us the most throughout the first five years. We continuously work hard to keep them happy, and it is the way that we will continue to succeed and offer them the home-away-from-home that we set out to build for them in the first place. 

The Nice GuyPhoto Credit: Elizabeth Daniels


HL: Tell us about some of the architectural and interior design features of The NICE GUY that make it unique. 

John Sofio: The Nice Guy was a landmark project for the Hollywood nightlife scene as well as my own body of work. Its high level of conceptual elements and craftsmanship really distinguish it from other venues. For example, we hand cut two and a half miles of cedar sticking that runs through the main room, simultaneously enhancing both acoustics and intimacy in the space. Ultimately, we’ve created the perfect balance between seclusion and exhibition—the ideal social setting for Hollywood’s elite. 

Kendall Jenner

Photo Credit: h.wood Group

HL: Why is the NICE GUY so special to you?

AK: The Nice Guy was a dream come true for me, literally. I grew up eating Italian food every Sunday night with my family, so the cuisine is very sentimental for me in that respect. I joined The h.wood Group 10 years ago with the intention of creating a new dining culture that L.A. had never experienced before, and with the opening of The NICE GUY, we filled the need for a hybrid restaurant/lounge for our closest family and friends. What evolved over the next five years has been some of the best memories of my life, and I hope that The NICE GUY will last forever. 

BT: To me, The Nice Guy is the epitome of what the h.wood Group is about. The NICE GUY was our first restaurant, and we built it almost like a clubhouse for our “mafia.” Our company and venues have been built around our close network of friends and supporters, and this venue was built with them in mind—from the food they would like to eat, to the type of environment and service they would enjoy dining in.

JT: The NICE GUY is a home for our friends and family, where we all have celebrated significant aspects of life and all grown together. It is a magical place that has become the foundation of the h.wood Group overall.

Tony LaPenna: The NICE GUY was our first restaurant, so I think first off, it is our birthday. But more importantly, the whole feel of the restaurant is so comfortable and homey.  You can just sit down and truly all of your senses are just at their peak with what is going on around you. 

Gigi Hadid

Photo Credit: h.wood Group

HL: Most memorable moment of The NICE GUY over the past five years?

BT: It’s hard to say one memorable moment but I think it’s really all the moments put together.  From John’s [Terzian’s] rehearsal dinner to our close friends Brian & Natalie Borens’ engagement party, to all the friends and families’ birthdays we have had there, it has been a clubhouse for our closest people. 

HL: Where do you see The NICE GUY five years from now?

BT: Within the next five years, we hope to expand to a few more NICE GUY locations.

Harry Styles
Harry Styles

Photo Credit: h.wood Group