June 9, 8:11 p.m.
Lil Jon goes crunk wild at Five/Ten after spinning Intervention Sunday.
Lil Jon goes crunk wild at Five/Ten after spinning Intervention Sunday.
Lindsay Lohan can’t stay away from the California club scene. Less than a week after the Liz & Dick actress was sentenced to spend 90 days in a rehabilitation facility, the former child star was spotted partying at FLUXX in San Diego, Calif. on March 22.
Joined by a gal pal, Lohan was “drinking Ketel One vodka on the rocks and smoking Parliaments,” a source tells Us Weekly. The Freaky Friday star wore a New York Yankees baseball hat with a hoodie over it and chatted up “Fire Burning” singer Sean Kingston, who was partying at a nearby table.
The following night, Lohan continued her partying parade when she hit up the private member’s club 41 Ocean in Santa Monica, Calif., according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail. Wearing a tight black dress and an oversized sweater, the actress tried to shield her face from photographers when she left the venue.
Though it was reported that Lohan was partying the same night she accepted her plea bargain, the Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen star denied going out in a series of Twitter posts. “Guys relax, that was not me at A/V or in the Mr. Pink SUV. I’m taking this seriously and focused on the road ahead,” she wrote March 19. “I stayed in last night, after a pretty long day, and ordered sushi to my hotel. Don’t believe every little thing you hear unless you hear it from me. The support I have gotten has been great and means a lot.”
When Lohan’s legal team next appears in court May 2, they must provide a progress report on the actress’ counseling and proof of enrollment in a residential treatment program. After successfully competing rehab, the star is also required to perform 30 days of community labor.
Remaining stagnant is the kiss of the death in the bar and nightclub industry. Some loyal customers likely will stick around, but generating interest from new clientele presents challenges, which is why promotions are lucrative for owners, especially if done right. However, no matter the ease and simplicity of the promotion, they often are fraught with challenges that ultimately may lead to a failed evening. Most owners hit some roadblocks when executing and planning a promotion. The following 10 dubious missteps can hinder any promotion, but once they’re assuaged and modified, an owner can rewrite the promotional narrative, turning it into bottom-line success:
1) Losing sight of the agenda. “Owners become obsessed with their own brand and, because of their passion, they can lose sight of what the agenda should be,” explains Brian Taylor, director of nightlife for Zee Bar Private Social Club in Philadelphia. Taylor reminds owners not to lose perspective of the goal and notes owners should rely on their marketing team for insights and expertise. A marketing manager and marketing team “should be responsible for solely promotions, especially in the planning process,” because owners tend to “micromanage and expedite this process, and it either ends in the marketing manager becoming frustrated or the team not being led correctly, and the owner is left at square one,” he says.
Christopher Mullins Jr., manager of McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia, agrees. The Philadelphia bar has been holding promotions for more than 150 years, and Mullins says although return-on-investment opportunities such as increased attendance and exposure are important, “you don’t want the promotion planning to distract you from the daily operations. You have to think about who is going to manage it, and make sure it’s not too complicated for your staff to execute,” he adds.
2) Playing it too safe. A safe bet is not always a sure bet. If an owner is consumed by self-doubt, the promotion will never find its own legs. “Owners make these mistakes,” Taylor says, “because they become anxious and somewhat nervous that they will fail, and they think they know best.”
Take risks, says Shane Brennan, managing partner of Stingaree in San Diego. “For us, we’ve done a promotion where the music format wasn’t right or what we weren’t looking to do, and it didn’t work,” he added. “But we let it breathe” and reworked the promotion, he says.
3) Forgetting the consumer. “The No. 1 thing people have a problem with is that they forget they’re trying to talk to the consumer,” says Ted Wright, founder and chief executive officer of Fizz Corp., an Atlanta-based marketing firm. An owner can get caught up in the idea and fail to execute it properly.
Mullins says operators can remedy this problem by making customers feel as though they’re part of the process. “We engage them by asking for their opinions and ideas,” he says. “Everything we do is all about our customers, so we like to get their feedback. It makes it that much more fun for them.”
4) Putting the concept before the customer. No matter the time, effort and brainstorming an owner puts into a promotion, the promotion won’t work if it’s not consistent with the establishment’s audience. “I think one of the big mistakes that most club owners and operators make, or we have made in the past, is not really knowing what is a good fit for your brand,” Brennan explains.
“[Promotions] don’t work because they don’t resonate,” Wright says. “They don’t resonate because they’re uninteresting. They’re uninteresting because you’re thinking about you and not the consumer. You’ve got to always think about the consumer.”
5) There’s no chatter. Conversation, Wright says, is the ultimate driver of traffic to your bar. With each promotion you host, part of its appeal comes from gaining new clients. Promos fail, he adds, because your customers don’t talk about it.
Some of this fault lies with owners who are unwilling to put in the pre-planning work. Vinny Di Nino, director of sales and marketing for RMD Group, which manages San Diego hotspots FLUXX, Side Bar and F6ix, says his team uses focus groups before launching a first-time promotion. By reaching out to 10-15 people, Di Nino can gauge a promotion’s success. “Sometimes we’re way off,” he says. “We’ve missed the boat, or they don’t understand what we’re trying to sell.”
6) Falling too in love with a promotion. All owners want to believe in the promotion they’re hosting, but that can be detrimental to the outcome if the details become all consuming. “I think [owners] get too enamored with the creative,” Wright explains. “I just think they can fall in love with worrying about all the details.” Spending too much time on the minutia can be destructive to a promotion. Wright says little things, such as the size of a logo, can prevent a promotion’s forward momentum. “No one has ever chosen to go into a nightclub or bar because of the size of the sign,” he says.
7) Choosing the lowest prices over value. Owners can get caught up in discounting prices, especially during major holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day. Although discounting may draw crowds initially, they aren’t the types of crowds most owners want. “Promotions are a loss leader if you only offer the lower price,” explains Tim Kirkland, CEO of Renegade Hospitality Group in Denver.
Discounts might drive people through the door, but they won’t keep people there for long, Kirkland says. He suggests doing something special so people will come to your establishment but also pay full price for drinks. You want high-value customers. “If price is a differentiator, then it’s a race to the whorehouse. They’re not high-value customers,” he says. “They will come back if you continue to offer lower prices, and you’ll go bankrupt doing that.”
8) Only planning for the short term. Hyping a great first-time promotion can only get you so far, but a long-term plan can breathe new life into a flailing event. “There’s a fine line between trying to force something that isn’t going to work,” Di Nino explains.
Di Nino says owners often focus all of their attention on the launch of a promotion without seeing its longevity. “I think having a long-term plan beyond the first event … You should tailor it to what you’re going to do in four to six weeks; plan for every single night so that you have some longevity,” he explains. “One good night doesn’t mean anything. You need to follow up.”
9) Not getting the staff involved. “You got to get them fired up,” Di Nino says. In fact, RMD Group requires staff input. From bartenders to bussers, each person helps come up with “a name or a tagline,” he says. “It excites them and gets them engaged; they feel more ownership of it, which is great.”
10) Quitting too soon. A promotion may fail its first time out, but that doesn’t mean it should be left for dead. “Give it time,” Di Nino says. “Promotions over time have improved. They didn’t go from being a total dog to a homerun,” he says, but they can go from being mediocre to a success. You don’t want to force something, but every promotion has potential, and if there’s a well-established foundation, then “it’s worth trying to fix it,” he explains. Brennan agrees: ”You need to let the promotion breathe a little bit and let it play out. You need [at least] a month.”
A one-night flop doesn’t doom a business, but owners also can fall victim to the mere idea of what promotions can provide. Blunders may seem fatal initially, but they also provide tools for owners and operators to transform a promotion that bombed into one that can have potential long-term benefits.
It’s a steamy hot-tub tale even Charlie Sheen would be proud of.
Blond bombshell Sara Leal finally broke her silence about the wet and wild romp she shared with Ashton Kutcher — describing in detail how she had boozy unprotected sex with him twice and was even ready to have a kinky three-way with her pal.
The “Two and a Half Men” star — who lied and said he was separated from wife Demi Moore at the time of their hookup — has great endurance in the sack, she spilled to Us Weekly and London’s Sun newspaper.
“He was good. We weren’t like making love, but it wasn’t weird or perverted,” she said.
Once their first steamy, two-hour sex session ended, Kutcher’s pillow talk included topics like national politics and her religious beliefs.
“He asked about my parents, if they were still together,” she said. “I told him my parents divorced when I was 6. He was like, ‘Let me guess, you don’t believe in love.’ ”
And just as they were ready to go at it again, Kutcher’s bodyguard, bizarrely dressed as a priest, confiscated Leal’s cellphone and deleted texts about the evening she sent to friends.
It all began when Leal and her pal, both bottle-blondes, were naked on Kutcher’s lap in a bubbling hot tub on the balcony of his luxurious Diamond Suite at San Diego’s Hard Rock Hotel on Sept. 23.
That’s when the 22-year-old administrative assistant said Kutcher told the girls he had broken up with his wife Moore, 48.
“Aren’t you married,” asked Leal’s pal, Marta Borzuchowski, who had quickly stripped down to nothing to join Kutcher, 33, and Leal in the tub.
Kutcher was quiet for a few seconds, then replied, “I’m separated,” Leal said.
And technically he was — his wife was 2,851 miles away in New York.
The dripping-wet trio soon moved to his bedroom, where he tried to talk the girls into having three-way sex.
They were still damp and wearing only bathrobes as they sat on his bed, she said. He had only a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Ashton and I started kissing and then he kissed my friend,” she said “He was rubbing my leg and he asked my friend, ‘Would you be comfortable rubbing Sara’s leg?’ And she was like, “Yes.’ ”
He asked if the girls had ever had a threesome. “I said no,” Leal said.
And then nature called.
“I had to pee so I got up,” she said.
“I was so nervous. When I came back my friend was gone. He was like, ‘Well she left. I told her if she was uncomfortable she could leave.’ He was lying down on the bed, so I just laid next to him. We started kissing again. He lost his towel. I took my robe off. Then we had sex.”
She admitted he didn’t wear a condom.
“It kind of caught me off-guard, but we still did it,” she said.
Leal had first noticed Kutcher early that night at the San Diego nightclub, Fluxx. She and some friends later made their way into a private party Kutcher threw at his hotel suite.
When he saw her in his room, Kutcher served Leal shots of booze and mixed her a vodka Sprite cocktail.
He put the moves on her soon after, suggesting she and Borzuchowski join him in the hot tub.
“I started looking for towels,” said Leal. “He just came up and kissed me.”
After they had sex for the first time, the two made small talk, discussing where she grew up and when her birthday was. She also told him that she was religious — a Lutheran from Texas.
“He said, ‘Oh, my gosh, are you a Republican?’ I was like, ‘What, do you like Obama?’ He said ‘Yeah,’ and asked if I could name any up-and-coming candidates. I said Rick Perry.”
Then they had sex again.
“He was like, ‘I enjoy things like this because I’m an actor 90 percent of the time and it’s fake. It’s nice to have moments that are real. I’m here now and you’re here now, enjoying it,” she said.
THE WINNER IS: FLUXX Nightclub
FLUXX, which opened in mid-March 2010, is one of the newest additions to San Diego’s urban and sophisticated nightlife. This ever-evolving venue truly locks into each one of your senses-from the touchable design textures, to the vibrant pops of color, to the energetic music pumping throughout the club. FLUXX’s one-of-a-kind organic design makes it an ideal pick for memorable meetings and events; the 11,000-square-foot space includes three gorgeous bars, a stage with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, an outdoor patio and plasma screen TVs and HD projection screens. The space can accommodate groups of 50-1000 guests and is in walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center and nearby hotels.
RUNNERS UP: Ivy Nightclub, The Edison
Suffering from the requisite Cleveland boredom that presents itself on those harrowing cold spring days that precede the never-soon-enough arrival of summer, I decided to cut my losses in May. Heading west to San Diego, I eagerly anticipated a few days of ocean-gazing and nights of touring the city’s vibrant bar and nightclub scene.
Quaffing a few drinks at dusk one evening, my friend and I decided to head to FLUXX, a club that’s been on NCB’s radar since it won Nightclub & Bar’s 2011 New Club of the Year award.
The club’s exterior resembles other bars in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, but the line of people outside suggests appearances can be deceiving. True to its name, FLUXX relies on transformation, which starts as soon as we walked through the doors, morphing from a seemingly regular-looking bar into a high-end nightclub.
The rotating-theme concept — each theme lasts eight weeks — is alluring to out-of-town revelers but, more importantly, keeps the interest of its regulars piqued, driving traffic and sales.
“When we first opened, we envisioned running a theme for four weeks, then taking a couple weeks off then doing another,” explains Dave Renzella, a partner with RMD Group, which owns and operates FLUXX. He notes that the comprehensive theming and patron response prompted management to extend the duration of each theme. “What we found is that when we had a theme roll out, we would transform the club in a really interesting way. The most recent theme ran for a full eight weeks and got really positive feedback from our [out-of-town] customers and our regulars.”
When I visited, FLUXX was nearing the end of its ’70s-inspired FLUXX*ADELIC theme, which had the club decorated in psychedelic décor. Passing through a tunnel leading from the street into the club, we were surrounded by mannequins decked out in Afros, bandannas and sunglasses. Once inside, giant butterflies were hanging throughout, and mirrored domes with LEDs were bouncing lights off of the main bar, illuminating the whole 7,000-square-foot space.
It didn’t end there. The main attraction is what Renzella calls a “cool, organic-looking 15-foot rope chandelier” hanging above the dance floor. A 5-foot-long curtain is draped on a steel ring that surrounds the chandelier’s perimeter; the chandelier then is placed in the middle of the dance floor. Using four projectors, this fixture creates “a funky lighting effect throughout the night” of random shapes and lights, Renzella explains.
Inside, the club is an exotic Eden. The circular space has three sections, including a spherical dance floor flanked by stages where go-go dancers not only perform but also embark on high-flying acrobatics on trapeze-like equipment. Fourteen VIP tables border the dance floor; a few steps above is another section of eight more VIP tables that give guests a bird’s eye view of the club from all angles. Three bars are located throughout the club.
“You’re never far from a bar if you need a drink,” Renzella quips.
No matter where you are or what you’re doing — buying a drink, dancing or chatting — every section of the club is visible, giving off a voyeuristic vibe. This is all part of the plan.
“What we wanted to create with FLUXX is this big open space, so the entire club is VIP,” Renzella explains. “You can go anywhere. There’s no restricted area.”
On this particular night, the FLUXX staff paused to commemorate resident DJ Sid Vicious’ birthday. Staff members and go-go dancers were wearing “I [Heart] Sid Vicious” T-shirts, and before he took his place behind the turntables, he was presented with Champagne and a birthday shout out.
When a special celebration is not on the calendar, the highlight of the night, as Renzella explains, is “a two-minute routine by the go-go dancers. They open the night around 11:30 p.m.” That evening, a dancer, wearing wings and a giant Afro, was carried across the dance floor, seemingly floating in front of the crowd, until she landed on a large mushroom, and performed a routine with three other dancers.
This was the only time during the night that the vibe slowed, momentarily halting to take in the ’70s-themed spectacle before shifting once again into high gear.
On July 8, Renzella and his team debuted FLUXX Aquatic, an underwater theme featuring a large aquarium filled with 800 gallons of water. “Mermaids” swim around the tank while another performs on an overhead trapeze.
The ongoing evolution ensures FLUXX takes patrons on a pulsating, chaotic journey without losing any of its momentum, ultimately transcending San Diego’s laid-back atmosphere. In fact, FLUXX, for all its focus on change, is consistent in one thing: creating a multifaceted, ever-evolving environment perfect for a raucous night out in America’s Finest City. NCB
Crystal Harris is wasting no time shedding tears over her failed engagement to Hugh Hefner, or concerning herself over Hef’s new leading lady Anna Sophia Berglund.
Just one weekend after hanging poolside in Las Vegas with Heidi Montag, Harris, 25, again hit the party circuit.
Coming out for the grand opening of F6ix nightclub in Harris’s California college town of San Diego, Hef’s ex showed up with high-school girlfriends and even her mom.
“She danced the night away with her crew,” an onlooker tells PEOPLE. “Crystal seemed to be in a really great mood and was very friendly with staff and patrons.”
When the sun sets, downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter emerges as the undisputed nightlife capital of the entire city. With more than 40 bars and clubs occupying a 16-block area, Gaslamp provides a year-round entertainment zone, with rooftop lounges and basement clubs featuring distinctive experiences for groups and corporate parties.
Since the sun shines at least 300 days out of the year in San Diego, rooftop lounges quickly became de facto as soon as downtown began to reinvent itself. Many hotels, office buildings and beachfront bars all utilize the near-perfect weather and provide magnificent ocean views for any event.
Atop 22 stories, on the roof of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter,
Altitude Sky Lounge offers music and martinis with utterly extravagant views of downtown San Diego and the Petco Park. Groups can rent the entire club for private parties and even watch a Padres game from 22 stories high.
Offering 13,000 square feet of space for private parties and events within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center, Stinagree is a 2,000-capacity restaurant and nightclub rebuilt from a historic warehouse. Highlighted by three stories, floor-to-ceiling waterfalls and translucent floating staircases, the venue includes a rooftop bar retreat.
For a more Americana-style setting, The Firehouse Lounge at Pacific Beach offers a spacious rooftop patio with double-wide chaise lounges, an elegant fire pit and amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
Generally speaking, many historical buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter have basements, a feature not too common throughout the rest of Southern California. As a result, groups can take advantage of the underground experience.
One example is Belo Nightclub, housed within a remodeled 20,000-square-foot historic basement building dating back to the 1930s. The club features three distinct rooms, sufficient for hosting small parties of 50 people, corporate events for 1,100 executives or sit-down dinners for 300 guests.
For a more bohemian experience, Side Bar embodies an Art Deco modern feel with an upscale nightclub ambience. The decor includes a European gypsy-like approach to furnishings, featuring a collection of birdcages that dangle from the lofted ceilings at various heights and brick walls painted in black. A company logo can be projected on seven plasmas screens throughout the venue or on a 12-foot built-in projector screen.
The RMD Group has scored another victory in the Gaslamp district with the opening of Fluxx nightclub at 500 Fourth Ave., marking one more achievement in a long string of successes by Michael Georgopoulos and his team.
Georgopoulos, who got his start in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher at the age of 13, has steadily moved up the ranks to become a major contributor to the success of multiple hot spots in San Diego. He is the former general manager of Stingaree, and he helped launch Bar West and Universal before starting RMD Group in 2008.
His business partners at RMD Group hold similar credentials: Dave Renzella, Georgopoulos’s uncle, worked in the food and beverage industry and is also a former GM of Stingaree. Rodrigo Iglesias was once a security guard for EnDev and spent 12 years managing clubs like Onyx in the Gaslamp.
The trio started RMD Group when Side Bar went up for sale, and they have been in growth mode ever since. After renovating both Side Bar and the neighboring Ciro’s pizza, the team barely caught its breath before planning Fluxx, which opened March 12.
The 11,000-square-foot club is one of the only “true” dance clubs in San Diego, Georgopolous said.
“RMD’s vision was strictly as it related to flow and energy and vibe, and most importantly, we wanted the best lighting and sound system, certainly in San Diego, but also in Southern California and potentially beyond,” Georgopolous said.
“Everybody dances everywhere … but a true dance club has a dance floor that has lights and sound around it that are at a higher level than everything else, and the design is that you are going to be on that floor dancing,” he added. “That’s what you have here, and you really don’t get that at too many other places in town.”
The result is what some have called “Vegas in San Diego.” RMD Group worked with designer Davis Krumins of Davis Ink to come up with a theme that incorporates natural textures like wood, brick and rope with the latest in club technology, including state-of-the-art lighting features and backlit photos of robots and vintage toys on the walls. The club’s three bars each overlook the dance floor and performance stage, which has already hosted Warren G, FloRida and Brandy as special guests.
Fluxx is billed as “a club in constant change,” an appropriate tagline for the ever-evolving nightclub scene, and that concept is incorporated into the club’s design. Many of the decorative components are interchangeable, including the artwork on the wall, some elements in the bars, the lighting scheme and the backdrop on stage, which will all be replaced by a new theme every six weeks, Georgopoulos said.
He also said that after only a few weeks of operating, the bar is already running smoothly, and his partners are considering their next move. They have been getting calls from nightclub owners in Las Vegas and other parts of the country who want to tap into the winning management formula they have created, but they might also try building another bar from scratch.
“I know what we are not going to do — we’re not going to do another nightclub in the Gaslamp, we’re not going to do another lounge in the Gaslamp, we’re not going to do another pizzeria in the Gaslamp,” Georgopoulos said. “But outside of that, really, the sky’s the limit.”
Davis Ink, Newport Beach, California
Recently completed projects: Side Bar, Lucky D’s, both in San Diego; the Kress, Los Angeles
Projects on the boards: Atrium Hotel, Irvine, California; Aubergine nightclub, San Diego
Hotel for design The Clift in San Francisco
I am intrigued by Primitive cultures and places that remain untouched by man. My favorite place to explore would be the jungles of New Guinea. Totally undiscovered plant species, insects, and animals. More diversity then anywhere else on earth
Product of the moment Art forms that reflect natural images (such as the big buffalo image we are using in the elevator of the atrium hotel), organic products: old wood planks, driftwood, sticks, moss etc.
City I am watching Shanghai, Beijing, and other fascinating cites that are developing out of formerly third world nations
Best part of the industry Seeing people enjoy the environments we create and how spaces we design can have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Most challenging part Getting people to open their minds and experiment with space. Convincing people to look at obstacles as opportunities for discovery. Teaching people to have fun with the design process as this always creates the most rewarding results
Movie I can always watch Pulp Fiction is my all time favorite. I discover new details every time I see it. I also enjoy trippy animated movies like Coraline and Nightmare before Christmas, which I can enjoy with my kids
Book on my nightstand Son of the Circus by John Irving. I love all Irving books as well as Charles Burkowski.
I’m listening to Old school punk rock like T.S.O.L., Vandals. I also like new alternative and dance music like Santigold, Shiny Toy Guns, and M.I.A.
I would like to design A tree house structure or a building under water. Something completely ‘off the wall’ that has a direct connection with nature
My perfect day is Surfing in the morning, playing with the kids, working in the garden, going out to a great dinner with my wife, and having two great glasses of wine (no more, no less). A great dinner consists of a local ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant like La Cave or Captain Jacks. It is these old local gems that provide so much visual inspiration.
Big break Being accepted to the Cal Poly Pomona Master’s Program in Architecture when I was a pretty wild and unsettled guy. The head of the architecture program Sigrid Pollin really believed in me and I was one of the few accepted.
You would never know I Bite my fingernails, and have ADD w/ an obsessive-compulsive twist—which is great for design.
Guilty Pleasure Really great wine and really cheap donuts
I can live without Planned communities that are often found in the OC—lots of different shades of beige and fines when your garage door is left open.
I own too many of Mid-century nick-knacks—ashtrays, vases, random coffee cups, and lots of lamps.
Trend that isn’t really a trend that I am paying attention to That’s my secret!
Lesson learned Love what you do in life, and do everything with an open mind—never doubt yourself.
Most important thing in your office View outside the window—looking out at all the people and cars on the busy street below
Favorite city Paris
Architect/designer I would love to meet Architect: Schindler and Le Corbusier, would have liked to meet. Designer: Philippe Starck—he seems like a cool guy
When I am not at work, I am Surfing, playing with kids, collecting tropical plants and large lava rocks. Exploring thrift stores.
Mentor My wife, she keeps me calm and tells me when to stop, and she keeps my ADD/obsessive compulsive disorder of wanting everything perfect in check
Project photos: Side Bar; photography by Christopher Orsatti