Lawrence Moore & Associates
Warwick Launch Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Introducing Warwick: an Upscale Lounge Set to Redefine Nightlife in L.A.
October 1, 2013 (Hollywood, CA): Over the years, Los Angeles has created some incredible venues that cemented their place in nightlife history, introduced high-concept cocktail culture to the masses and designed unique event spaces that changed the game. But the landscape has been calling for a fresh, new and innovative venue to take nightlife to its next level… and now, it has one. Welcome to Warwick.
The roots of Warwick find themselves in the history of restaurateur and events impresario Jeffrey Best, one of the brilliant minds behind venues such as Firefly, Tiki No and The Darkroom. When Best was in his early 20s, he spent a considerable amount of time at Club Lingerie – which happened to be the hottest club in the early 80s. It was also a launching ground for musical acts including R.E.M., The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and even Nirvana… but what Best remembered most about the club was how it was a stylish and grown-up venue.
Nearly 20 years later Best found himself deeply embedded in his current profession when the Club Lingerie space went up for sale after several failed relaunches – one of which involved changing the club into a speed metal bar. “The space was definitely having some challenges,” Best recalls. “I was approached by the owners and asked if I wanted to clear those challenges and get a new lease from the landlord, and I agreed to take it on. My first thought was about what I could do to restore it to its former glory.”
And that meant looking at the history and lineage of the space. In order to keep the entitlements in place, Best ran the space as – as he puts it – “a divey bar” as he continued to consider what he wanted to present to Los Angeles. “One of the things that really made the club great back in the day was it was an amazing venue right on Sunset, and if we wanted to, we could stay open until 6am and have dancing and live music,” he notes. “So I started thinking: what if it had the style and ambiance of a great European lounge with great mixology, great music, great hospitality and a great space for people over 35 that’s not just another place following the trends?”
With his vision in place, Best set out to find the perfect partners to help him make his dream a reality. Enter Sylvain Bitton and J.T. Torregiani, two of the pioneering figures of the L.A. nightlife scene and the men behind ventures such as Aventine and Beso. Appreciating Bitton and Torregiani’s passionate dedication and attention to detail, Best saw them as two men he believes are the future of hospitality and the new face of what nightlife will become in Los Angeles.
For their part, Bitton and Torregiani took to their partnership with Best with a level of professionalism and focus that has resulted in creating a world-class hospitality venue. As part owners in the lounge, Bitton and Torregiani are the first ones in every morning and the last ones to leave at night, overseeing everything from the candle selections to the napkin folds. But where the two shine the most is in their attentive handling of their co-workers, colleagues and invited guests.
“For me, it comes from watching my father work,” Bitton shares, as his father was behind one of San Francisco’s most popular restaurants. “All the personal relationships he had with everyone from the people washing the dishes to the city’s Mayor… he was even friends with Tony Bennett. He always had a good time, and I appreciated both how he approached the social aspect of his job as well as how hard he worked, wearing all the hats, operating and hosting. J.T. and I are really good at that – making people feel at home, making regular people feel like celebrities… that’s what my father did.”
“We’re like conductors,” Torregiani adds. “We’re happy to be delivering drinks to guests who need them, we’re there to make sure we greet everyone, and we’re there to prevent things from going wrong. But not only that – we’re there taking care of every aspect of the venue. We really are there from nine in the morning until at least two the following morning, sometimes later and earlier. Because this is really a hands-on venture for everyone.”
Nowhere is that truer than with Warwick’s innovative bar program. Fronted by Chief Cocktail Officers Jason Bran and Damian Windsor, Warwick has taken the concept of cocktail culture and upped the game on several different levels. First, there’s the Warwick Workshop, an adjacent space next to the lounge that’s dedicated to cultivating all the mixings, fixings and ingredients necessary to craft the venue’s signature drinks. It’s here that you’ll not only find organic produce, garnishes and dressings like sea salt infused with fresh vanilla bean, but it’s also where all of the juices are freshly squeezed and pressed every day, and everything is made from scratch – right down to the simple syrup.
And while Warwick has a standing cocktail list, it’s in their table service that the lounge really shines – and no, it’s not the table service you’re used to. Gone is the watered-down cranberry juice, cans of Red Bull and orange juice from concentrate that accompanies a basic bottle of well vodka. In its place is a revelation – not just in presentation, but in taste. Guests will have several options to choose from and several ways to choose them. For example, there are packages such as a Manhattan or Lemon Drop, where everything one needs to create the ultimate version of those classic drinks – and variations thereof – will be brought to their table along with the finest spirits available. There’s even the equipment they need to make their own ice spheres, perfectly sized to fill the base of their glass like a miniature frozen globe ready to chill their chosen cocktail with style.
Or perhaps a guest would like a particular alcohol and several different mixers and accoutrements to play with – that’s a possibility to explore, too. While guests are welcome to make their own drinks, they also have the option of enjoying the show as one of Warwick’s attentive and talented staff will craft their cocktails right at tableside, muddling fresh fruit, fresh herbs and whatever other ingredients they desire right in front of their eyes. Either way, if a guest comes up with a unique concoction that they fall in love with, Warwick will name the drink after them and keep it on file for the next time they visit. And if guests don’t finish their bottles before the night is through, they’re stored behind the bar until the next time they visit. As Best explains it, “It’s bespoke cocktails.”
“Even our basic mixers are of higher quality than people are used to,” notes Windsor. “For example, we’ll give you Coke, but it’ll be Mexican Coke, effervescent and cold coming directly from our Workshop fridge. You’ll get ginger ale, but it’ll be made with fresh ginger. And juices will be seasonal and fresh, direct from produce we’ve picked up at the Farmer’s Market. People are looking for a higher quality of product now, and we want to give it to them to compliment the spirits we use.”
“We also wanted to give people something greater than the status quo of bottle service,” adds Bran. “So in creating the tableside program, Damian and I put this under the microscope and examined why people were putting money into it. It’s the experience, it’s the venue, but it’s also in sharing it with the people they want to be with, and for some, it’s important for them to host. But no two people host the same way, or create an impression the same way. Some want to make drinks for their friends and tablemates, others want people to do it for them, so we wanted to create an experience that could be custom tailored so that people could make it out to be what they wanted it to be. It’s not just about liquid in a glass – it’s about presentation, customizability and the high-class service our guests deserve.”
That high-class service philosophy extends all the way to the behind-the-scenes operations, led by General Manager Dean Geistlinger and Bar Manager Mike Foley. The two work tirelessly to ensure Warwick has the support system in place to allow their team to do what they do best, while giving guests the ultimate five-star experience in a warm, approachable and stylishly classic space. As Geistlinger puts it, “We want Warwick to run like a luxury hotel or high-end restaurant, but with drinks instead of food. We want our guests to feel comfortable, have fun, and know they’re getting the highest quality of everything we have – and that means knowing the origins of all the fruits and vegetables that go into what they’re drinking, knowing all that we can about the champagnes and wines we offer, and do everything we can to take things to the next level. We’re taking a different approach to everything.”
Which is a commitment Foley echoes. “What we’re doing is a challenge, but it’s one that’s welcomed by both our clientele and the bar world,” he says. “It really and truly is an innovation. Jeffrey, Sylvain and J.T. are reputable for their backgrounds in customer service, and I’m blown away by the accessibility they’ve given us to the standards they’ve created and how they’ve supplied us with everything we need to make that happen. It can be challenging to bring someone’s dreams and inspirations to life, but Jeffrey, Sylvain and J.T. are inspiring everyone to make that happen.”
The final beautiful piece of the Warwick puzzle falls into place via the venue’s gorgeous design, which came to fruition through Best’s vision and his partnership with Tennis Jones. The wood that created the rich, warm flooring was actually reclaimed from Frank Sinatra’s old home, and the oak hutches that accent each of the table service platforms were handcrafted and driven cross country from Ohio direct from the woodcrafter’s woodshop. Three fireplaces – two on the main floor and one in the upstairs hideaway – were built from scratch using reclaimed bricks from a church that was demolished in the 30s.
Speaking of the upstairs hideaway, the room – which fits up to 100 guests on its own – has its own corner bar nestled toward the back of the all-white space, which is accented by antiqued mirrors and reclaimed factory windows that look out onto the warm and masculine living room space down below. Two striking triptych paintings from artist Samuel Bayer frame either side of the main floor bar, while artful nudes by artists including Renoir, Picasso and Rembrandt line the brick walls, which are pre-‘33 – and the building itself was built in the 20s. The entire space feels like an upper-class, tastefully decorated living room in a multimillion-dollar mansion… but it’s one where you can still feel comfortable being yourself.
And that’s ultimately the goal that Warwick aspires to: as much as they want to present Los Angeles with an upper-echelon nightlife experience, they still want their guests to feel at ease as they enjoy themselves while still appreciating the spoils of world-class service. Because as Bitton states, “I think every person matters. J.T. and I try to meet everyone and try to shake everyone’s hands, because we’re thankful for them.” Adds Torregiani, “If we had a mission statement, I think it would be to create the most inviting, luxury nightlife experience possible, where everyone feels at home.”
But the last word on Warwick belongs to Best. To sum up the Warwick experience, Best is succinct. “I don’t want to be a place with 97 promoters and a turn and burn mentality,” he states. “I want our guests to be able to enjoy their drinks in a great environment where they can dance if they want to, relax if they want to, have great conversation if they want to, and be comfortable doing so.”
And if Best gets his wish, Angelenos will be enjoying the Warwick way of nightlife for years to come.
For more information on Warwick, please contact:
Lawrence Moore, Lawrence Moore & Associates