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Nightclub Confidential

Voyeur Stays Relevant (and Visible) in Los Angeles

April 28, 2011 By: Sean Evans


The average lifespan for a New York City nightlife venue is 18 months. That number drops sharply in other markets, such as Los Angeles, where some establishments shutter after a mere six months. High-end celebrity retreat Voyeur, which opened in October 2009, has just passed the threshold most clubs yearn for. Here, co-owner Matt Bendik breaks down some philosophies and gives tips on how to continue to pack the house and pass the relevance test month after month.

Design and plan with a solid concept in mind: Voyeur

“A lot of places are very modern," he says. "We wanted Voyeur to feel like it had been there for a while, so we used a lot of antiques and repurposed items, like old wood paneling from a hotel ballroom for our main room walls. Our glass panels are from the old New York Times building when it deconstructed. We bought 50 antique chairs, sofas and neat pieces of furniture and redid the fabrics, leathers and woodwork. Most nightclubs are a sore sight during the day. Time and again, when industry friends come in for a walk-through or a meeting, they’re blown away by the level of detail they don’t see at night. We have hand-crafted leather artwork on the back of chairs that aren't visible to the naked eye.”

Establish a real character profile for the venue:

“The spirit of the venue is a real risqué, performance-driven one," he says. "There’s an overt sexual innuendo in the place, which is designed to be intimidating when you enter. We did that on purpose. We like that feeling. We hired a director of entertainment and a choreographer to work with six to 12 girls doing performances nightly. On a regular night, it’s very sexually charged. We’ll have a girl rolling around in a net from the ceiling, dropping feathers or blowing bubbles into the crowd or girls tying each other up. Every night has a new concept, and we like to push the envelope. Then we do a spot-lit choreographed number where the whole room stops for the viewing. One of my past favorites is "pillow fight," though. Six or seven girls go at it, and the entire room is covered in feathers when they’re done. It’s a great effect.”

Start slowly and sustain the heat as you increase the number of nights your club is open:

“A lot of clubs open with high grosses and go down," he says. "We started really high, beating our pro forma but didn’t hit our biggest numbers until about nine months in. That’s because we built our brand organically by opening slowly and building more demand than we had supply. We waited one month to open our second night which we launched on Halloween with Heidi Klum’s party — the press went crazy. We’ve steadily added additional nights since, and we always partner with a premiere or special event to do so.”

Don’t be afraid to diversify your portfolio:

“A few weeks ago my partner, David Koral, and I just opened Mezze, which is a completely separate entity from Voyeur. A lot of club people open club-y restaurants, but we didn’t wanMezzet to do that," he explains. "We wanted a place where the focus is on the food. We teamed up with Chef Micah Wexler [Craft, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon] and Michael Kassar [formerly of Spago Beverly Hills] to create a contemporary Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean restaurant that is filling a niche that the market’s missing. Designed by Waldo Fernandez [Soho House], Mezze is a comfortable dining room where you want to hang out in, and there’s a lounge and bar component with incredible seasonal cocktails made from spices and influences from the Middle East that captures the soul of our vision. It's great to have Mezze because we can offer high-profile guests a dinner or drink alternative before they come to Voyeur for their night out."

 


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