Nightlife Intel From ESquared Hospitality's Creative Director, Samantha Wasser
As ESquared Hospitality’s creative director, Samantha Wasser gets involved in all the behind-the-scenes work on some of the city’s chicest spots, like the spate of BLT restos, and she’s also a partner at Bar Naná, which lured scads of fashionettes to Gansevoort St. during its NYFW debut. The native New Yorker with an exceedingly fun-sounding gig (oh, and she’s only 26!) schooled us on the anatomy of a hautespot, the candy corn-inflected dessert she can’t get enough of, and the virtues of being nice when it comes to getting past that velvet rope.
How did Double Seven become Bar Naná?
Trey Hospitality was formed by industry veterans David Rabin, Raphael Chejade-Bloom and Kyle Hotchkiss-Carone, and the first idea—less than a year ago!—was to simply refresh Double Seven by brightening the space and revamping the brand. We were toying with the idea of giving the current space a facelift but reopening under the same name. During the redesign phase, we realized that the material and decor we were drawn to didn’t work with the Double Seven brand. This was the source of much debate among the partners, which eventually led to the birth of the Bar Naná brand.
What’s the deal with the name Bar Naná?
The name stems from an Emile Zola book, Nana, which tells the story of a streetwalker in Paris that ascends to fame and becomes the envy of every man and woman in Paris society. Naná is also the name of a brothel in Punta del Este. It’s a classically French inspired lounge with South American accents.
How did Bar Naná become the buzziest opening of NYFW this past season?
We planned our opening around Fashion Week, and we debuted the venue by hosting designer after-parties. Our opening night was the after-party for Prabal Gurung, followed by Public School and Olivier Theyskens. Both Prabal and Olivier have been huge supporters of our brand from the beginning! Olivier custom-designed all of the uniforms for Bar Naná, and even frequently came by during construction to check up on our progress.
What makes Bar Naná stand out from the plethora of Meatpacking hautespots?
In recent years, the Meatpacking District has become saturated with club-like venues. We wanted to create something that was a little more playful, relaxed, and organic. A place where our friends could enjoy delicious food, unique cocktails, and fun music in a chic setting without feeling the pressures of “being in a club.”
As a hospitality maven, got any tips for getting past the bouncer, and scoring great service?
Be yourself, and be nice.
How do you stay sane while holiday party hopping?
Getting around is never easy, but Uber has definitely been a lifesaver when running between events across the city.
Your favorite cocktail and app for the holidays, s’il vous plait!
I absolutely love the Revamped Candy Corn dessert at chef Shaun Hergatt‘s fine-dining restaurant, Juni. It definitely satisfies your sweet tooth and makes you feel like a little kid again. The Cashmere Fizz at BLT Steak has to be my favorite holiday cocktail. It combines vodka with maple cardamom syrup and prosecco, topped with a garnish of flamed lemon peel.
What’s next on your docket?
ESquared Hospitality is launching BLT restaurants in Seoul, Taiwan, Miami Beach, Las Vegas, and a new nightlife concept in Los Angeles called Rare, in partnership with Victor Drai. I’m also working on the launch of a new brand, The Wayfarer, with restauranteurs Eric Marx and Lisle Richards. The Wayfarer, an American Seafood Grill, is opening in December 2013 at The Quin hotel on 57th Street and 6th Avenue. The venue epitomizes downtown meeting uptown!