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Tenjune has been one of the tightest doors and most exclusive dance floors in town since a pre-meltdown Britney Spears partied there way back in 2007. Since then, it's become a nightlife HQ for virtually every celeb in town and the golden club of umbrella company EMM, whose other Meatpacking District holdings include SL and brasserie Abe & Arthur's (both in the former Lotus space). Niteside caught up with EMM's director of operations Eric Marx to talk door policies, Tenjune's competitors and what the average shelf life is for a club in this fickle town.
EMM Group is a formidable force in New York nightlife, but how did you guys get started? When Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum started EMM Group in 2006, I immediately came to work for them. All of us left comfortable positions at other jobs, but we really believed in EMM Group. We worked through the summer maintaining a platform at various venues, throwing events and working 24 hours a day to make sure the business ran smoothly.
Tenjune took off a few years ago; what were a few key factors that helped it rise to the top? I think what set us apart from other clubs at the time and still keeps us on top is the dedication and hands-on technique practiced by both the owners and staff at EMM Group. While most owners hire staff to run the day-to-day operations and to promote the club, it's hard to find staff that are as dedicated to the club as the owners. At EMM Group, we all lived and breathed Tenjune to make it successful. We've kept this mentality as we've grown with The Chandelier Room at the W Hoboken, The Estate, Abe & Arthur's, SL, Four-Hundred and continue to do so as the company expands.
Can anyone who books a table at Abe & Arthurs get into SL, or is the dinner-to-club migration process a bit more selective? Abe & Arthur's and SL are two separate venues. Someone who comes to Abe & Arthur's for dinner will not necessarily get into SL. Diners need to go outside Abe & Arthur's and speak with the doorman of SL to be granted entry. For those who have reservations at SL and dine at Abe & Arthur's, we try and make the process of getting in and set up at their table as seamless as possible; however, they're two entirely separate reservations.
Any advice to Niteside readers hoping to get through your tough door? It's best to be patient and to come early with a small group.
In your experience, what's the shelf life of a club in this town? It all depends on the dedication of the operators. If it's run like a proper business, it can stay around for four or five years.
When you aren't out working or at your own venues, where would we find you? I'm most likely at the gym or out trying a new restaurant or lounge.
Which one of your competitors would you tip your hat to? I would have to say Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano of Butter and 1Oak. 1Oak has been a hotspot since they opened, and they have maintained their status as one of the best clubs in town.
What do you guys look for in a DJ you book? We look for someone who will work with us to create a music format -- we want the DJ to play for the crowd. The DJ sets the atmosphere for the night, so we want each DJ to have both musical depth and good taste.
The speakeasy craze is in full effect these days. Being trendsetters, where do you see nightlife going in the next year? Any drastic shift? I think the speakeasy concept will continue to grow and become more popular as an early evening space, but it will not replace the nightclub. The people looking to party in a high-energy club will still look to us for that atmosphere and element of a night out on the town.
How will the past decade of New Yok nightlife be remembered and how will it stack up against previous decades? Over the past decade we have seen a lot of growth and advancements in the industry. There was a huge influx of club openings and closings -- it was a decade where every operator tried to out-do one another. Owners were reaching out for the best musical performance, hottest DJ, best hosts and in the midst of it all, hospitality became a market for the business savvy, and this competitive atmosphere ultimately helped the hospitality industry grow immensely. I think the decade to come will be about smaller, more intimate spaces and the individual experience that can be provided to the customer. The economic market has changed the playing field so that only the best of the best have truly survived. Today's owners recognize that customers are looking for the best experience possible and expect more bang for their buck -- the personal experience of the customer, whether at a club or at dinner, has made industry professionals focus on their service and image under a magnifying glass.