Mark Birnbaum, Eugene Remm and Michael Hirtenstein, have created a wildly successful hospitality business since its foundation in 2006. To date this power trio owns the swanky Manhattan restaurants Abe & Arthur’s, Catch, and Lexington Brass. Additionally, EMM Group is responsible for nightlife venues from Atlantic City to New York City and soon enough they will also have venues in Miami, Florida. EMM Group’s radiating nightclubs are Catch Roof, SL, SL East, the Chandelier Room, and HQ Nightclub at the Revel Resort. Mark Birnbaum and his business partners are currently working on additional venues including recently named “Finale” at 199 Bowery Space in the Meatpacking District and sister venues Catch and SL in Miami.
Other accomplishments on EMM Group’s portfolio include the lifestyle management company Four Hundred. It’s an invite only club that caters to affluent clientele, bringing them all of life’s luxuries. Birnbaum and his EMM Group partners also own an incredible eight acre Sag Harbor property known as The Estate where summer’s most exclusive events are held. EMM Group has hosted everything from art and fashion shows to other swanky, A-list parties at The Estate.
In an interview with Nightclub Confidential Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm discussed EMM Group’s success and their latest endeavors.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): You are developing multiple brands in NYC. Tell me what the brands are under EMM and are each of these brands equally suited for exportation to other cities?
Eugene Remm & Mark Birnbaum: All of our brands have been developed with exportation in mind; they’re built on a foundation that balances strong operations with targeted promotions and I think that is a recipe for success in any market. We have already begun to see this with the success of SL East in the Hamptons and the upcoming openings of SL Miami and CATCH Miami in the James Royal Palm.
Our other brands include Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass restaurants and, on the nightlife side, we have CATCH Roof, TENJUNE, The Chandelier Room and HQ Nightclub at Revel in Atlantic City.
We will then be adding another restaurant, nightclub and lounge to the mix with the opening of our 20,000 square foot property at 199 Bowery this fall.
NCC: Tell me about Miami and the new SL and CATCH there.
Remm & Birnbaum: Miami is a second home to us. We’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and have always been attracted to the excitement of the South Beach culinary scene. CATCH Miami is a two-story, 190 seat space with a 40 seat outdoor patio in the James Royal Palm. The menu will feature a lot of the CATCH New York signature dishes along with some newer dishes that will incorporate local flavors and ingredients.
SL Miami will be an extension of the NYC and Hamptons locations. We have great DJs lined up and will continue to focus on entertainment programming and strong customer service for the best possible guest experience.
NCC: How do you not lose quality and the core values of your brand as you expand and spread out into faraway places?
Remm & Birnbaum: We have established a reliable infrastructure and applied it to every aspect of our business. We train our employees to reflect the EMM Group brand and support growth from within. No matter where we expand to, the company’s core competencies are present.
NCC: When did you have the eureka moment and say a single entity wasn’t your future? When did you realize there would be multiple brands and a dynamic expansion?
Remm & Birnbaum: It was always our intention to open and operate multiple venues. The success of Abe & Arthur’s and SL gave us the legs to expand into new neighborhoods and other cities.
NCC: Many believe a stand-alone nightclub can’t even exist anymore because the costs are way too high. Talk to me about economy of scale.
Remm & Birnbaum: Stand-alone nightclubs can exist. It’s just not the way we prefer to do things. Opening a restaurant in tandem with a nightclub is certainly a bigger investment and a higher risk, but we find that each venue drives business for the other and proves to be more beneficial for us.
NCC: Is bottle service as strong as it will ever be? Has it peaked and is there a viable replacement for it or is it now as much a part of the drinking experience as the ice cube?
Remm & Birnbaum: Bottle service has become the norm in nightlife. It represents a level of exclusivity and will remain a staple of the experience.
NCC: Tell me how this new era of EDM and superstar mixed format DJ’s effects marketing and the bottom line?
Remm & Birnbaum: To ignore the new-found power of EDM DJ’s would be crazy. They have become their own form of celebrity and have a massive following. Advertising a big name to draw crowds is a method utilized by many clubs to establish themselves. Bottom line is you have to have a big enough venue to justify the financial investment.
NCC: Sound and lighting have become more important as the DJ stars have risen. Who does sound and lighting for your venues?
Remm & Birnbaum: Sound and lighting have always been a central focus in the operation of our venues. We use Advanced Audio for lighting and sound that enhance the design concepts created by iCrave, our design firm. EMM Group has used both Advanced Audio and iCrave since the inception of our company.