Mark Birnbaum talks food, nightclubs and being a good neighbor
Mark Birnbaum, partner of EMM Group, has spent the past 10 years transforming the Meatpacking District into one of the most sought-after areas. According to Forbes magazine, Birnbaum is one of the “New Kings of New York Nightlife.” Along with his partners Eugene Remm and Michael Hirtenstein, he has created a number of successful restaurants and nightlife venues, such as The General, Catch, Abe & Arthur’s, Lexington Brass and Tenjune. With the help of Birnbaum’s super A-list of models, actors and the über-elite and their children, he and his partners have created a nightlife empire. Birnbaum has the Midas touch — let’s see what he does with it.
Where did it all start?
It started with Tenjune nightclub. Our first restaurant was Abe & Arthur’s and then SL.
What is your business model?
A We exploited a niche that wasn’t being capitalized on. We created a one-stop shop of coming through a restaurant and seamlessly into a club. The question of “Can I get in?” isn’t there anymore, for the restaurant customer is taken care of like the club customer. And if you eat at the restaurant you can get into the club.
We partnered with HQ Nightclub and The Social at Revel in Atlantic City. ... We are in the process of formulating La Cenita \[Little Dinner\] with the executive chef, Akhtar Nawab, of La Esquina.
Explain your experience with the Bowery Mission.
They are our neighbor on the Bowery. We always want to be a good neighbor, and during Hurricane Sandy we helped them as we saw lines of homeless people looking for food and shelter. We were all in the same situation without power. Yet the Mission was still helping those who couldn’t help themselves. The difference was, during Sandy all of the resources were tapped out from their typical donors, for the need for help was so great. Resources disappeared from the effects of Sandy and we were able to step up. So we rallied our 1,200 employees who couldn’t work anyway for we didn’t have business, and we put them to work at the Bowery Mission doing whatever it took to help. Now, we feed the Mission twice a month and donate food and beverage to their charitable events. We also asked our friends and have donated winter jackets and clothes to the Mission.
What’s your favorite restaurant in New York?
ABar Pitti, Hudson Clearwater and Bubby’s in the Meatpacking District.