AHL Insider:

David Rabin

Restaurateur

  • WHAT DO YOU DO AND HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

    Currently I'm more on the restaurant and lounge/rooftop side of things. I'm a partner at Cafe Clover, The Lambs Club, JIMMY at the James and The Skylark. In the past, I was more heavily involved in nightclubs and bars, with Lotus, The Double Seven and Union Bar. We also consulted on the first Western-style supper club in Moscow back in 1993. We've got a few new restaurant concepts in development, and there's a chance I'll be involved in a hotel project (but everyone says that, so, I'm knocking wood at the moment). I've also got one TV project in development but we'll see if it makes it from "purchased" to "pilot", which is a long road. Long ago, I was a lawyer doing about 95% real estate and 5% entertainment, and due to the entertainment work, I was getting invited to a lot of fun parties. I kept running into one of my closest friends from college, who was on Wall Street but was very much in the fashion world and downtown scene. Over too much tequila back at Nell's one night we decided to quit our proper jobs and open a restaurant/club, which was Rex (a kind of mini-version of Lotus).

  • WHATS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY IN THE PAST 15 YEARS?

    There have been a lot of changes that have dampened the sense that there is always that one place in NY that you must be, but to me, the three most pronounced are: Brooklyn, Tinder, and the explosion of festivals and 5-day events like Coachella, SXSW, Art Basel, Burning Man, and all the fashion weeks in Europe, plus extended weeks at pre-Oscars/pre-Golden Globes etc. I have a sense that for many of the people who used to "set the agenda" in NY, when they go out today, it's to eat dinner and then head home early-ish so they can wake up for yoga or meditation... because when they are traveling, they are going day and night on business/pleasure.

  • WHAT EXCITING THINGS DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN WITH TRAVEL/HOTEL INDUSTRY NEXT?

    I've read about a few airlines that are trying to bring pricing down, such as Norwegian Airways. I think if fuel costs remain low, if some challengers can emerge on the scene and force ticket prices to come down across the board, people will be able to travel more economically and thus, more often. And I'm certain that on the hotel side, designers/developers are going to get more creative to combat the inroads of Airbnb. Selfishly, I think more of them should fully partner with people on the F+B side, the way the Nomad was done, because people who do what we do have great relationships developed over many years with guests who trust us to take care of them.

  • IF YOU HAD THE DAY OFF TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU BE?

    Do you have a magical time transporter? If so, a beach in St. Barth's or Brazil with a great book. If confined to close proximity, I'd take a full day to play poker (after a good work out or some tennis). For me it's about as zen as I can get--it takes so much focus to do well, your daily concerns are pushed away from the front of your brain and you get lost in the concentration and the game itself.

  • IF YOU COULD THROW A PARTY FOR ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?

    It would be for my parents. My Dad passed away when the economy was still in a bad place about 6 years ago, and we were just beginning our "comeback" with the opening of The Lambs Club and JIMMY. I think he'd love to be at The Lambs Club for a celebration. I'd invite some of his personal heroes and favorites (some living, some not) such as Martin Luther King, Beethoven, Mozart, Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Sandy Koufax, Jim Brown, Willie Mays, Arthur Miller, Mark Twain, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, Red Holzman, Sid Luckman, Joe Louis, and more, and some of my parents' closest friends. My dad was a great mix: he worked in engineering sales to support our family, but his loves were literature, theater, classical music, politics and sports. And I think he'd love to see that our son is now 6'1" and would tower over him (and can shoot the 3).

  • DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE HOTEL IN THE WORLD?

    There are so many I'd like to try so I don't think I have the right answer yet. I think the nicest I've ever stayed in was Claridge's in London. However Jeff Klein once hooked me up and gave us the penthouse at The Sunset Tower and that felt quite glam in an old Hollywood kind of way. I have tons of friends in LA so I love to be out there.

  • YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN SOME OF THE MOST PROLIFIC NIGHTLIFE VENUES IN NEW YORK, WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU CAN RECALL?

    Russia was much crazier. Among the things I can discuss, we woke up one Sunday morning to an enormous explosion (we lived in the PH of the hotel in which the club was housed) and it turned out a rival group had used C4 to blow up 1/4 of our club (while empty) as a "message".

  • WHO OR WHAT IN THE INDUSTRY HAVE YOU GOYOUR EYE ON? WHO OR WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAVE AN IMPACT?

    Hmmm. There are so many amazing people on the food side it's hard to pick one or two. Clearly, dining "healthfully" is a growing phenomenon and we hope to continue to work in that sphere. Although I'd love to do a great sports spot that isn't overly macho, as I think there's still room for that in NY. On the nightlife side, I'm really impressed with what Richie and Ronnie have accomplished in the last few years making their brands so celeb-centric and keeping them relevant. As a pure biz, you have to admire the Tao guys and their empire. I think there's a good chance that the Babel crew is going to do some great stuff with their events and the venue they are building. I think you guys built a spectacular spot with The Edition in Miami--it feels quite grand and yet really fun. I think my partner in Cafe Clover, Kyle, is going to develop some great stuff as he has perfect taste, and we have a few ideas together. And there is one person who is not in hospitality but has a great network with whom I'd like to do a cocktail bar one day along with Kyle. We'll see if we can make that happen.