Hospitality Design - May 2014 - (Page 153)

perspectives interview tao group By Stacy Shoemaker Rauen Photography by Eric Laignel (TAO Downtown) and courtesy of the TAO Group 1 2 MAGIC TOUCH One group's knack for raising the bar 3 It seems that everything the four partners of the TAO Group-Richard Wolf, Jason Strauss, Marc Packer, and Noah Tepperberg- open turns to gold. Since starting the PanAsian trend in 2000 with TAO in Midtown Manhattan, they have grown their mini empire to include 17 restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs in New York, Las Vegas, and Sydney-many of which have repeatedly topped the year's highest-grossing venue lists. (It helps that their Las Vegas establishments draw a combined 25,000 to 30,000 people on non-holiday weekends.) Whether inventing new concepts or reimagining old ones-and all with a detailed focus on design by a variety of industry talents-no challenge seems too large, and success continues to beget success. In the wake of the much-anticipated TAO Downtown New York opening and in the midst of redos of the Las Vegas properties, Wolf and Strauss talk breaking new ground, the appeal of ramen, and putting their money where their mouth is. TAO Downtown opened in a massive 22,000-square-foot subterranean space this past October in the Maritime Hotel in New York. Why was it time to bring a second TAO to Manhattan? Richard Wolf: The first TAO is more than 13 years old, and the second one [in Las Vegas] is more than eight years old. We felt it was time to reinvent the brand, to keep it fresh, and have a model to continue to grow with. We don't want to ever keep copying ourselves. Vegas was a departure in many ways from [the first location in] New York. But this one in New York is different in just about every way, and that was a conscious effort. Yes, it's a big, sexy space with a statue from Buddhism, here a Quan Yin, but other than that, everything is different-the uniforms, the menu covers, the menu itself. It's probably 75 percent new items. Was that something you wanted to do, or did the space provide the right opportunity? Jason Strauss: We were always confident that there could be two TAOs in New York, uptown and downtown. Then, we always wanted to evolve the brand, as Rich says, and update the look and feel, and challenge ourselves in that way. When the space presented itself on 16th Street and Ninth Avenue underneath the Maritime Hotel [on the edge of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District], we thought 1+2. TAO Group partners, Richard Wolf and Jason Strauss. 3. At TAO Downtown, a 40-foot-long staircase with three landings holds seating for 100 guests, creating "great perch seating," says Rockwell Group partner Shawn Sullivan. it was a perfect site [next door to the Dream Downtown where they operate multiple venues]. We believe in the neighborhood; we think it's amazing. There's a dramatic amount of nightlife and hospitality there. We thought it was the right space for the new TAO. Why did you enlist Rockwell Group to design the space? RW: We had a great experience with them on Marquee in Vegas, from David [Rockwell] all the way down. David took a tremendous amount of ownership in the project, and it shows. There's a certain culture in their company that is very collaborative, very cooperative, and they don't get flustered when you don't like something. A lot of designers get married to their own ideas and become difficult to work with when you reject their ideas one too many times. Rockwell and his May 2014 153

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - May 2014

Hospitality Design - May 2014
online TOC
from the editor
business sense state of the industry
trends millennials
places berlin
places hawaii
interview the trump organization
interview tao group
interview david seargeant
interview valeriano antonioli
5 questions for robert mckinley
profile cecilia dupire
trends rich fabrics
cevisama roundup
hd expo preview
from the show director
roger thomas
conference highlights
an nam
night market elements
the line
renaissance barcelona fi ra
hard rock hotel palm springs
ace los angeles
omni nashville hotel
regent phuket cape panwa
only you hotel & lounge
hyatt atlanta midtown
the royal snail
row nyc
st. cecilia
sophie’s at saks fi fth avenue
herringbone los angeles
old crow smokehouse
ad index
ad index
back space
back space

Hospitality Design - May 2014