People Who Know Things: Shane Davis
In what may become a new segment, People Who Know Things will feature individuals working within various aspects of nightlife who regularly have access to nightlife intelligence.
For the first edition of People Who Know Things, I interviewed Shane Davis. Shane works in nightlife as a consultant for hospitality operators who are looking to open new clubs and restaurants. Because of his line of work, Shane is one of the first to learn when things are developing in nightlife and for that reason, he is a person who knows things.
Below is my chat with Mr. Davis.
Tell us about your role in the nightlife industry?
I specialize in nightlife and entertainment within the real estate industry, mediating transactions, and helping both sides of the equation develop and execute food & beverage driven projects within a multitude of contexts.
Who are some of your clients?
I’m fortunate to have a pretty well established niche and loyal clientele; if I had to name a few recent deals I’m particularly proud of, I’d say Double Seven-BLT, Goldbar 2.0, and Satsky & Gefter-Shadow.
Recently I did a quick count in my head and came up with a dozen new (or reopening) clubs and restaurants expected to open in the Meatpacking District in 2013. What specifically about the present time is driving leases to be signed for spaces all throughout the rather small neighborhood?
Meatpacking has always been very attractive to nightlife, at first because it was a predominantly commercial area where operators could obtain the necessary licensing due to zoning classifications and get loud without much community pushback. The second incarnation being still heavily driven by feasibility but more about luxury and exorbitance with a very international sensibility. But now that the area’s well passed its transformation, I think operators just want to get in before it’s too late. Ground floor rents in the area are demanding over $200/SF - levels that hospitality venues simply can’t afford to operate at. So the demand has always been there; execution is the tough part.
If somebody is looking to open a nightclub as a first time operator without a pre-existing following, are there particular neighborhoods you see as beneficial or detrimental for first-time owners?
Location definitively plays an integral part in establishing identity, however I think context is the most important thing. The interplay between site, space, location, design, programming - each creative choice, is what makes nightlife exciting. If an operator wants to make some noise without leveraging their name or background, they better shake things up a bit. It’s unlikely we’re going to think twice about another bottle service driven club in Meatpacking or another divey punk bar in the East Village, but a bottle service driven divey punk bar in the East Village might get our attention.
Overdone trends in nightlife?
I think the commodification of DJs is getting a little out of hand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m big into DJ culture, and the EDM phenomena has clearly been instrumental in creating a newfound consciousness for dance music among the masses, but I think it’s time for people to start caring more about the music and less about who’s playing it. Popular music will always dictate the direction of most nightclubs, but I’d like to see the industry continue to push the envelope music-wise, exposing us to new genres and inspiring the scene as a whole. I’m optimistic that will happen and look forward to contributing to the process.
A concept you’d like to see done in New York?
I’ve been really into this party called Shadow City in the UK recently. Really raw but really sexy music driven concept highlighting some serious young talent to a crowd that gets it. Those kids are very quietly pushing some of the best music in the world right now. Bardot in Miami for its music programming as well. The owners have top notch taste and are consistently highlighting the most relevant acts around. Can’t forget Le Pompon in Paris- hands down one of the coolest brands in the world (we helped put together their Art Basel pop-up last year) and of course I’m eager to see each of the international brands I’m currently working to bring to NYC come to life.
Any funny or memorable quotes from a Community Board meeting?
The first rule of fight club is…
How are you able to approach landlords and operators to pitch them with an offering? How are you able to build the trust necessary to close deals when dealing with people who have been in the hospitality industry for decades, who have likely opened or leased spaces with other brokers and consultants in the past?
In most situations my team’s experience and relationships speak for themselves so I rarely find myself “pitching” in the conventional sense. Creating business isn’t the hard part- It’s all about closing deals. And despite being relatively young, we’re just as, if not more active than anyone else in the city when it comes to F& B. The short answer to how our differentiates ourselves from the pack, is that we’re heavily immersed in all things hospitality, not just real estate. We live it day in day out.
What do you make of New York clubs increasingly throwing pop up parties all over the country and world?
I think it’s great - From both a business and social standpoint. The idea of “owning a customer” has been one of the more significant trends in nightlife over the past couple of years. High level operators rely on their big spenders to drive their top line and if they’re not able to curate an experience worthy of the business, these spenders will gladly take their deep pockets down the street. The elite brands take this concept to the next level by following their clientele around the world curating experiences for their crowd in various environments. But I think it’s important to note- although these pop-ups typically exist in glamorous destinations like Cannes and Ibiza, it’s not necessarily about going to the hottest places – it’s about being where your friends are.
5 year goals?
To have cemented my influence in the global marketplace.
Shane is on Twitter: @ShaneEvanDavis