Locally I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of the success of The Brick, Umi Sushi Lounge, Off the Hookah, Pangaea & Gryphon and now Exit 66 along with our other beachfront businesses. I’ve also done some consulting work with 88 Dueling Pianos and a few other Fort Lauderdale restaurants and bars.
2. Which place in your past was the most fun to work at coming up? Which was the worst?
I really had a great experience with The Brick, but after nearly two years it was time to keep pushing forward and move on. In my time there we really managed to change the way people think and the way they viewed nightlife in Fort Lauderdale. And as far as my worst experience, it really doesn’t benefit me to go into details, but suffice it to say that I thrive when I can work with like-minded, creative, and self-driven individuals, and unfortunately, those are not always the business owners and co-workers I came across in the past.
3. Currently you are the man behind the scenes on Fort Lauderdale beach. What is your actual job title?
I’m the Marketing Director for Exit 66 & The Beach Bars, but our team wears many hats, so we don’t necessarily restrict one another to our job titles’ standard requirements.
4. What is the best part of your job week in and week out?
After spending a great deal of time in college studying environmental science, I realized what my true interests and passions were and moved into both the sociology and anthropology programs. So, just as your favorite artist at an award show tells you they “do it all for their fans”, I’ll tell you that what I love is people and all of the new experiences and new faces that I meet every week.
5. Which bars and clubs on the beach does your organization own and manage?
Exit 66 (nightclub, pool, terrace, and private events venue) along with St. Barts Coffee Co., Spazio, Dirty Blondes, Sangria’s and Rockbar.
6. Blondes is everyone’s favorite bar. What is it about Blondes that South Florida just can’t get enough of?
The thing with Dirty Blondes, often affectionately referred to as just Blondes, is that it doesn’t ask anything of its guests. It has no attitude and judges no one, and in doing so provides everything you could ask for of a bar. Its oceanfront location is a favorite among locals and features the longest happy hour specials with over 50 flat screen TVs, arcade games, pool tables, and drink prices that seem like they haven’t changed since the ’70s.
7. Exit 66, the newest edition to Fort Lauderdale Beach, has become the new hot spot on beach days. To what do you owe all the recent success?
Thanks for the compliment. The reality is that the majority of people in South Florida moved here because of the climate and because of the beaches, so all we’re doing is reminding everyone what they already know to be true; that it’s better on the beach. Beyond that, more creative energy and hard work is put into each and every component of what we do, and in return, I think it’s safe to say that we definitely stand out amongst our competition.
8. The pool is definitely the hot spot on the weekend. Is it weird having a pool at work? Do you come to work in board shorts?
The common misconception is that since I have a direct view of the ocean from my office and a pool on site that every day is a “beach day”. While those are obviously blessings that I’m grateful for, if I paid any real attention to them I wouldn’t have lasted a week with all the work there is to do here.
9. I know you guys have a pretty close knit team over there behind the scenes. What members of your team could you not live without?
Jay, Juan, and Oshri…simply put, I can’t do it without them.
10. With so many people involved and so many bars to run, does it ever just turn to total pandemonium on the busy days?
The goal of any business is to put policies and procedures in place so that it can essentially run itself and that’s what we strive to do with our venues. We have a considerable amount of combined experience, and while each day is a new day with new challenges we’re all able to keep fairly calm and level headed in any situation to ensure that what needs to get done can get done.
11. Even on those crazy long weekends like Memorial Day or the up-and-coming Fourth of July?
Growing up in Illinois, I first started working detasseling in the cornfields in the summer months (spell check doesn’t even recognize that word which I must assume is because of how ridiculous the entire experience is) when I was 12 years old, and I started working in restaurants at 14 and the bar industry when I was 19, so I’m no stranger to hard work, long hours, and high-stress environments.
12. Speaking of the Fourth of July, do you have anything special planned you want to reveal here in the Chronicle?
No matter what your plans are for the holiday weekend, they’re certainly focused around the beach and the fireworks, so there’s no better place to be than on the terrace at Exit 66 Sunday night, alongside all of your friends, enjoying an unobstructed view of the fireworks celebration.
13. What’s the craziest thing you have seen while working on the beach?
This could be a very long conversation, but in truth I’m a gentleman and as such, my lips must remain sealed.
14. If you had to pick the beach, downtown or the Hardrock, where is the best party?
I’m pro-21 [and over], and I’m pro-beach.
15. If one of our young readers wanted to get into the nightclub business, what advice would you give him?
Don’t expect anything; earn everything. Always be honest and fair, and be prepared to keep your smile while sacrificing your nights, weekends, and holidays.
16. If you weren’t working in South Florida’s hottest nightclubs, what would you be doing?
I have a lot of things I’m looking to accomplish in my lifetime which include everything from launching a creative marketing firm, to owning my own bar, and even writing.
17. What if you created a marketing firm for your bar and then wrote all the press releases? Did we just help you accomplish all your dreams at once?
Yes, so now the only missing component would be the funding, and I’d appreciate a check in my account this week.
18. Time for our South Florida Chronicle classic question: you have to marry one, kill one, and sleep with one – milf edition! Ready? Sarah Palin, Sharon Osbourne, and Sandra Bullock.
Ozzy! I apologize for sleeping with your wife, but I’m married to Sandra Bullock, so don’t screw it up for me by telling her. RIP Sarah Palin.