Opening The Subterranean Den, The RavenOctober 1, 2013 By: Steve Lewis
A real estate mogul was once asked, “what are the three most important things to consider before buying a property.” He replied “location, location, location.” This fundamental rule still applies as time goes by. It is often essential to nightclubs to have a great location but not always.
Being in a neighborhood where there are many choices like NYC's Meatpacking District has its upsides and downsides. The upsides include a common ground with law enforcement agencies and neighborhood associations who understand that this is an area designated for nightlife as opposed to a lone spot in a quieter neighborhood taking all the heat. Walk up traffic is a gift as well however congested areas can scare away the well-heeled.
Choices require spaces to be on their toes and to treat their clients well as the competitor is just a hop skip and a jump away. Opening this week with go to DJ Paul Sevigny, the subterranean den The Raven is sure to offer patrons just that. With a host of hot artists involved in the décor, Creative Director Henry Stimler believes that The Raven will be able to carve out a niche for itself and thrive in the uber competitive area. The previous tenant Gunbar came in like a lion and left like a lamb. However, with a string of success under his belt The Raven might just become the newest hot spot to hit the area.
Nightclub & Bar (NCB): The Raven opens with an incredible location. What will happen here and what does it bring to the neighborhood?
Henry Stimler: The Raven isn't like any other club in the Meatpacking District in my opinion. Everything about The Raven screams underground den. It’s in a basement; designed in a very sexy way with low ceiling so the energy is great. The room is full of amazing thought provoking art by Yana Tara, Ksenya Roz, Bradley Rothenburg and Harif Guzman. It is furnished with tufted couches and unique table tops. Our music program is very different as well and we keep a super tight door. It brings a new kind of room to the Meatpacking District that is a mix of comfort, luxury and debauchery, and totally original.
NCB: What has been the reaction to the new space thus far?
Stimler: We had a soft opening through fashion week and hosted some great events such a Fashion and Style with the Ronsons and Rita Ora. We had ASAP mob and Kendrick Lamar for VFILES and many other great events to showcase the space. The reaction has been great. We also have a different mindset since we are not all about bottle sales and very much about curating the best group. We have already started seeing a very loyal following with our customers. I think the most important thing is that people feel at home. It’s an extension of their living room and people seem to have really made it their home.
NCB: Does size really matter and what do you see as the advantages of being small?
Stimler: YES SIZE MATTERS! We are not huge like a super club, but I think we are a good size for what we want to achieve and we can also keep our integrity and our door. I think everything is relative and as long as the team and I do a good job, the space should be just fine. Also, we are not so small. The Raven is 3,200 sq. ft. all in.
NCB: What do you believe some of the disadvantages might be?
Stimler: Check back with me in a couple of weeks and will let you know.
NCB: You have been involved with many projects in the last few years. Describe what you do and how you do it.
Stimler: I went from banker to nightclub kid in 2010 with the birth of the original pop up Madame Wongs. A couple of kids who just started throwing parties everywhere from a wedding hall on East Broadway to an old Chinese restaurant on Howard Street. When that was shuttered by the cops, I went in the other direction and started hosting dinner parties at La Petite Maison on 54th Street. Casino Royale, Midnight in Paris and Jezebel was to follow and now The Raven. I think people come and attend our parties because it really does try and bring the best of what NYC has to offer – diversity fun and really beautiful women. Finally, I think it’s important to be able to move seamlessly through different crowds, I am just as comfortable with a bunch of hipsters as a bunch of bankers (and rabbis in my restaurant).
NCB: How do handle the door as such an exclusive venue?
Stimler: In most cases, the doorman will send me a text with the name and I will respond. We also have a list, but as I have tried to train our doorman. It’s all about the look and attitude of the approach. I came here at 24 and knew no one. I just approached that door (WASS was the man then) with the right look and group and the ropes parted. Same goes at The Raven. It’s up to you. If you want to get in, look right, have the right mix and try your luck. I want my doormen never to be rude, just be cordial and firm but never rude. I hate that bullshit.
NCB: There are a ton of new openings this month. How do you get heard over all the hype?
Stimler: Be unique and stick to your vision. Offer a unique room and a great experience, be nice and having a few celebs doesn't hurt either.