Famed Nightlife Impresario Nicola Siervo Sits Down with Nightclub & BarApril 7, 2014 By: Steve Lewis
A veteran in the nightclub and restaurant business, Nicola Siervo, started his career at the high-profile spot Bang in 1992 with owners Jason Binn of Ocean Drive Magazine and Oliver Stone. He went on to open Joia, a restaurant at the Century Hotel.
Following the success of the restaurant Siervo went on to open Mynt Ultra Lounge with Robert Cann and Rony Seikaly and Metro Kitchen and Bar with Hotel Astor owner Karim Masri.
Karim Masri and Rony Seikaly joined Siervo and became the masterminds behind KNR Restaurant Group with Nicola Schon. They opened Quattro Gastronomia Italiana on the ultra-hip Lincoln Road, Miami. In 2009, they took on the F&B services at W Hotel South Beach including Solea a Cuisine of Spain and Wall Nightclub.
Siervo didn’t stop there; opening Quattro in the Trump Soho with Kastel Lounge, the Library and Bar d’eau. As managing partner of Quattro (Miami and Mexico City), he also manages Cavalli owned by fashion icon Roberto Cavalli.
As an operator who is able to function as a restaurateur as well as a lounge and club operator, Siervo, works at standalone clubs and within hotel complexes. He does it all while always remaining a gentleman. Nightclub & Bar caught up with the very busy Nicola Siervo during the Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week.
Nightclub & Bar (NCB): The Winter Miami Music Event just finished. What sort of extra things do the clubs do to welcome these music guests?
Nicola Siervo: The key is to have excellent and unique programming during busy periods such as Art Basel, WMC and MMW. From the talent we book to the format of the evening to hosting live artist performances. We keep it fresh and cutting hedge.
NCB: Miami has traditionally been a seasonal city. How does your business cope with the approaching “off season”?
Siervo: Miami is no longer as seasonal a place as it once was, though we still have a peak and a low season. Anyhow, our local followers are the key in all our restaurants and clubs...locals are the base but out of town tourist is the money.
NCB: At one point hiring solid staff was a problem for Miami operators. Is cultivating a good staff still difficult in Miami?
Siervo: Miami remains a challenging labor market but it's getting better.
NCB: What are the differences between marketing in NYC and Miami? Tell me about your NYC experience and do the fundamental things apply in both cities?
Siervo: The fundamentals remain the same. The main difference is that in Miami we have to stay on top of luring our transient travelers who come in to visit our city. Places like NYC have those big clients all the time.
NCB: Why and how did you get into nightlife?
Siervo: I always loved nightlife. When I use to live in NY and while in school I worked as a waiter at night. Then, from there I moved to Miami to manage a restaurant called Bang in 1992; after that nightlife came naturally.
NCB: Wall – It’s an interesting name. How did you choose it?
Siervo: It was a collaboration with our partners that own W Hotel. We discovered the remains of a wall from yesterday years during the excavation of the pool...and the name Wall came about.
NCB: Who are you in business with and are the days of the lone wolf operator over?
Siervo: I partnered up with Karim Masri 13 years ago. He handles the business side of the company, I handle the marketing and day to day operation, etc. But we keep an eye on new people and make them partners; Navin Chatani is a partner at Wall and Roberto Sanzo GM at Quattro is a partner at the restaurant.
NCB: Sound and lights are becoming ever more important as music becomes more layered and patrons are more aware of quality. What systems do you use and how do you balance the energy in the room to cater to adults who want to chat?
Siervo: We use a local sound company who custom built and designed our sound systems called Infinite Audio Systems. When it comes to creating a more conversational nightlife concept, like we are doing at our upcoming F&B operation at a soon to be open 400 room hotel (we can't disclose name yet, might change) where we will have a lounge the sound will be spread out with smaller speakers throughout the room. However, I think that people who come to a club like Wall know that the level of music is high and energy is high, and then there is a clientele that want more of a lounge set up. However, lighting is key in conjunction with the sound. We always look for the next level and upgrading out lights. LED seems to be an important factor now, clubs are brighter these days.
NCB: What does the phrase “it's all about service” mean to you?
Siervo: Service is essential and challenging at same time; we pay attention from the greeting process to the seating, ordering stage to maintenance during the night all the way until the end of the night when the guest orders the check and walks out the door. In order to make this more efficient, we have all members of our staff on a radio in order to expedite service.