Side BarNovember 17, 2011
Ultra-lounge of the Year Entry
Name of Club: Side Bar
Location: San Diego
Ownership/Parent Company: RMD Group and NightlifeSD
Open Date: May 15, 2009
Side Bar ultra-lounge, located in the Gaslamp District of San Diego, is the premier destination offering luxury nightlife and VIP entertainment to downtown San Diego for more than seven years and is considered to be the pioneer of San Diego nightlife.
With a recent $1 million remodel, Side Bar has revitalized its signature style and unrivaled entertainment that the ultra-lounge has became known for, debuting a glamorous art deco and modern destination with a continued focus on service. The dark, moody, and sexy ambiance with unexpected elements and surprising details, offers a casual, anytime space perfect to let loose for cocktail hour with friends or a high-energy hot spot for partygoers.
With a gypsy-like approach to the furniture, Side Bar displays a collection of mismatched items appointed in soft velvets, worn leather, and silky blacks that purposefully meld to make startling sense. Thirty deep red birdcages dangle from the lofted ceilings at various heights, starkly contrasting the black painted brick walls lined with paintings of artistic nudes in the front half of the space. Side Bar exudes intimacy, which allows for a loungy, comfortable environment without losing site of the edgy design that draws the crowds in.
Behind a large silver curtain in the middle of the space, guests may step up into the club side. Thursday through Saturday, this part of Side Bar is a fury with local DJs playing the best mixes from within a floor-to-ceiling, oversized birdcage DJ booth. The club’s bottle service guests will relax in deep red, diamond tufted custom sofas and enjoy three giant custom chandeliers and a backlit acrylic image of a vintage nude scene coquettishly hidden behind strands of crystal.
Side Bar welcomes guests to make the ultra-lounge their home, creating the ideal night out on the town. With removable cushions on the bottle service booths so guests could get up and dance on them to cubbies at the tables to hold personal belongings, patrons are free to socialize and dance without the burden of a purse or jacket. The VIP bottle service tables are also designed to take up less space, but hold more, giving patrons more room at their tables, while still allowing staff quick access to the items they need.
The sound and lighting system in the ultra-lounge is on par with top nightclubs, bringing an added element to its patrons. Boasting eight 15-inch MartinF15 club speakers backed with four dual 18-inch subs, two Mach and two Cerwin-vega and split into the two rooms are four MartinF15 speakers in each room backed with two eighteen 18-inch subs. Side Bar over-compensated the sound to ensure there are no blind spots so patrons could enjoy club-sound in a lounge, leaving no location where guests can’t have a nice comfortable conversation but also have the feeling of real nightclub sound. The 6 Elation Epot150 moving heads operated by Martin Light Jockey software accompany the sounds and highlight every décor item and patrons in the lounge, giving off comfortable lighting accents.
Side Bar also provides the highest quality of product to its guests by carrying only premium brand spirits. Cocktails feature an array of spirits to satisfy every impulse including an extensive inventory of champagnes and large format bottles. Concocting the specialty drink menu is mixologist Isaac Krejci and the Side Bar bartending team. With highlights such as the Watermelon Cucumber Mojito, Muddled Honeydew Melon Cocktail and Shirley’s Dirty Orange, there’s something to please every palate.
Side Bar’s management, The RMD Group, brings a proven, hands-on approach to developing and managing nightlife projects. With over 50 years of combined experience and an insatiable passion for the hospitality industry, RMD has nurtured and leveraged valuable relationships with vendors, DJs, promoters and celebrities, all adding to Side Bar’s success.
RMD's involvement and unique philosophy has produced a potent and highly developed hand picked Side Bar team of the best of San Diego’s nightlife professionals including many of the top staff from the RMD Group’s prior venues and service industry veterans ranging from managers and bartenders, to security and hosts. In addition, fresh talent receives extensive training to become some of the best bottle service/bar teams in the area with not only striking looks but the savvy know-how to give clients the best in costumer service. Each team member receives a minimum of two weeks of off-hours training that includes an overview of each night from set-up to take-down as well as a breakdown of logistics for guest serving hours.
In order to deliver stellar personalized service, the staff operates on the “4 touches of service” each night. Upon arrival, the “4 touches” included a personalized guest greeting upon arrival by the door host, a VIP escort to the guest table, a dedicated cocktail waitress available at each table guest’s service and a security host available for each table. Additionally, Side Bar utilizes an advanced reservation system that allows the team to track what each VIP customers prefers to drink, what table they like to sit at, what server they prefer and their favorite music so that can tailor each guest experience to their individual preferences.
Side Bar thrives on giving a high quality of service and entertainment at a lower price than surrounding nightclubs. The intimate atmosphere and smaller space lends to a more personal experience than most of the bigger clubs have to offer. Patrons don’t have to wait long for a drink at the bar, and since there are two attended bathrooms in the venue, there is rarely ever a line (hooray!). Side Bar offers competitive happy hour prices and allows restaurant patrons to stay for night without paying a cover charge. For Service Industry friends, Side Bar offers nightly drink and bottle specials.
Because of the RMD Group’s reputation and connections, Side Bar is able to get quality, big name DJs and entertainment at a fraction of the price they would normally charge which in turn allows the ultra-lounge to charge less of a cover at the door and keep competitive pricing.
Side Bar has creatively increased sales by adding two unique nights that would otherwise be dark (Industry Night on Wednesdays and FIVE/TEN on Sundays in the summer). Side Bar Industry Nights are driven by booking key influencers as guest bartenders, as well as guest bartenders from other areas such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orange County and Arizona. Reaching out to different areas outside of San Diego has not only brought new patrons to the venue, but also San Diego’s Gaslamp District. And with the adjacent Ciro’s pizzeria from Chef Derek Dinublia, known for his New York-style pizza, Side Bar patrons can cap off the late night with a slice of pie. Additionally, in 2011 Side Bar introduced a monthly Mixology Class offering patrons a chance get behind the bar with Mixologist Isaac Krejci to learn how to “be your own bartender.” Cocktails and free entry to the club with the $20 class fee offer guests some perks while driving additional revenue with ticket sales for each class.