EMM Group Ramps Up for Expansion this FallAugust 31, 2012 By: Steve Lewis
The Monopoly images painted on the construction barrier at 199 Bowery, NYC hints at the expansion of the EMM group to levels that are rivaled by only a few. The 199 Bowery space will include a 20,000 square foot restaurant, lounge and nightclub. This isn't the Bowery of my youth or even my dad’s. And the people being tasked to operate new venture for EMM have downtown street chops so I expect this to be a non-competitive offering for this highly successful brand. I heard from the horse’s mouth, Eugene Remm, co-owner of EMM, that a November opening is in the cards.
EMM Group already operates restaurants Abe and Arthurs NYC, Catch NYC and midtowns Lexington Brass. Their nightlife portfolio includes NYC entries SL, Catch Roof, Tenjune and Hobokens Chandelier Room as well as SL East in East Hampton and Revel Nightlife in Atlantic City. They have a "lifestyle management" firm, 400, which helps the swells live swell lives. They have an event production element and the eight acre Sag Harbor property called The Estate where they host exclusive events, art and fashion shows and other soiree's for the well-heeled. That horse’s mouth tells me that the much anticipated export of their brand into the Miami market will happen in November as well.
Catch Miami will open in the James Royal Palm at 1545 Collins Avenue with Executive Chef Hung Huynh. The nightlife entry will be branded SL Miami. The expansion of nightlife into a far off city is not an easy task. Clubs are not Starbucks as they are often personality driven. When someone does go to a Starbucks in NYC or Moscow they can expect pretty much the same thing. Design, quality and consistency of the actual product define the brand. In nightlife the brand is often defined by the owner/operator as a bottle of Grey Goose or Jack is the same product in a fancy club or dive bar.
Can Eugene Remm and partner Mark Birnbaum succeed in far off Miami? Well, Nightclub Confidential caught up with them to find out.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): You are developing multiple brands in NYC. Tell me what the brands are under EMM and are each of these brands equally suited for exportation to other cities?
Eugene Remm & Mark Birnbaum: All of our brands have been developed with exportation in mind; they're built on a foundation that balances strong operations with targeted promotions and I think that is a recipe for success in any market. We have already begun to see this with the success of SL East in the Hamptons and the upcoming openings of SL Miami and CATCH Miami in the James Royal Palm.
Our other brands include Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass restaurants and, on the nightlife side, we have CATCH Roof, TENJUNE, The Chandelier Room and HQ Nightclub at Revel in Atlantic City.
We will then be adding another restaurant, nightclub and lounge to the mix with the opening of our 20,000 square foot property at 199 Bowery this fall.
NCC: Tell me about Miami and the new SL and CATCH there.
Remm & Birnbaum: Miami is a second home to us. We've spent a lot of time there over the years and have always been attracted to the excitement of the South Beach culinary scene. CATCH Miami is a two-story, 190 seat space with a 40 seat outdoor patio in the James Royal Palm. The menu will feature a lot of the CATCH New York signature dishes along with some newer dishes that will incorporate local flavors and ingredients.
SL Miami will be an extension of the NYC and Hamptons locations. We have great DJs lined up and will continue to focus on entertainment programming and strong customer service for the best possible guest experience.
NCC: How do you not lose quality and the core values of your brand as you expand and spread out into faraway places?
Remm & Birnbaum: We have established a reliable infrastructure and applied it to every aspect of our business. We train our employees to reflect the EMM Group brand and support growth from within. No matter where we expand to, the company's core competencies are present.
NCC: When did you have the eureka moment and say a single entity wasn't your future? When did you realize there would be multiple brands and a dynamic expansion?
Remm & Birnbaum: It was always our intention to open and operate multiple venues. The success of Abe & Arthur’s and SL gave us the legs to expand into new neighborhoods and other cities.
NCC: Many believe a stand-alone nightclub can't even exist anymore because the costs are way too high. Talk to me about economy of scale.
Remm & Birnbaum: Stand-alone nightclubs can exist. It's just not the way we prefer to do things. Opening a restaurant in tandem with a nightclub is certainly a bigger investment and a higher risk, but we find that each venue drives business for the other and proves to be more beneficial for us.
NCC: Is bottle service as strong as it will ever be? Has it peaked and is there a viable replacement for it or is it now as much a part of the drinking experience as the ice cube?
Remm & Birnbaum: Bottle service has become the norm in nightlife. It represents a level of exclusivity and will remain a staple of the experience.
NCC: Tell me how this new era of EDM and superstar mixed format DJ's effects marketing and the bottom line?
Remm & Birnbaum: To ignore the new-found power of EDM DJ’s would be crazy. They have become their own form of celebrity and have a massive following. Advertising a big name to draw crowds is a method utilized by many clubs to establish themselves. Bottom line is you have to have a big enough venue to justify the financial investment.
NCC: Sound and lighting have become more important as the DJ stars have risen. Who does sound and lighting for your venues?
Remm & Birnbaum: Sound and lighting have always been a central focus in the operation of our venues. We use Advanced Audio for lighting and sound that enhance the design concepts created by iCrave, our design firm. EMM Group has used both Advanced Audio and iCrave since the inception of our company.