Richie Akiva has given New York nightlife some of its most memorable spots over the years and now he’s set his sights on a new project and it’s a big one. His latest venture is The Ned Nomad, Manhattan’s newest and buzziest membership club and hotel. Under the Membership Collective Group umbrella, this endeavor marks Akiva’s first official hospitality alignment with executive chairman Ron Burkle and Soho House founder Nick Jones. As the face of the brand and creative director, he’s bringing his magic touch and the fashion world is already flocking to it. Fashion Week recently saw parties for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Dior, Bloomingdale’s, COACH, GQ, Kendall Jenner, and sightings of Winnie Harlow, Imaan Hammam, and Jasmine Sanders. We recently got on the phone with the New York legend to get the details on The Ned, find out what it’s really like to work for him, and to get an answer on the future of 1OAK.
We know about The Ned in London. Will it be the same?
The Ned in London is in the financial center so it was more business oriented. It was a different than what Soho House is. Now that I’ve come in to the brand we’re trying to make the New York one the flagship and more like what the brand will become. Especially with the New York Stock Exchange location coming in two years. Now that I’m a part of the brand it will be something different and a lot different than Soho House.
What are people going to see when they come?
They’re going to see a one stop shop—all the entertainment you could ask for every night, an amazing dining experience, and the bar for drinks. You can go to the roof and listen to cool music or go back downstairs and watch a band play. You never know what celebrity might get up on that stage and play with the jazz band or the in house band that we’re building. When I opened The Darby, I put together a house band that was amazing. Everyone from Bruno Mars to Taylor Swift and Prince got up on stage and performed. You can also go to the lounge on the second floor for drinks and dancing.
How do you become a member?
There’s a process. You apply and we have a committee who review your membership for approval.
What kind of members are you looking for?
An all around eclectic group of people. A mixture of all walks of life! Respectful, cool, business savvy, professional people.
What will the programming be like?
There’ll be magic shows, burlesque shows, comedy shows…there’ll be all types of things.
What can non-members check out at the space?
The Little Ned, which is our bar right off of 28th Street. We also have a Cecconi’s.
What are your favorite things on the menu there?
The truffle pizza is one of my favorite things! The branzino is also amazing. The fried zucchini is one of the best I’ve ever hard. I like guilty pleasures in life. The burger is also one of my favorite things to eat.
Is the plan to roll out The Ned around the world?
We have Doha coming soon.
Has this project been a dream?
It is! I’ve always wanted to do hotels. That was always the natural progression for me. Going from where I’ve come from to now, I needed a bigger platform to do what I do and show my vision and style and bring my culture and people to.
What’s been the biggest challenge in this project?
Dealing with the times and staffing. Bring great staff to come on board after COVID has been the biggest challenge.
The customer service was really great.
As I”m the face of the vision, curation, and style of The Ned, everything you feel is me, and everything operational is someone else so they manage the property. I’m on top of it as well. I’m on property every day saying whether this is good or that person is good. I’m here all day, every day.
What are you like as a leader? Are you tough?
That’s a good question. Different people will think different things. If you catch me at times, I can be tough. I’ll tell you the truth, I”m very passionate. Sometimes that passion can come off as being tough but it’s really just passion. When I want something to get done, I want it done. I have one rule and that’s to not say no before you’ve tried every single thing to get something done. If I say I want flying elephants, don’t automatically say it can’t happen. Try and figure out every which way in the whole entire world to get flying elephants and if you absolutely can’t do it, then you can say no I couldn’t do it.
What else is ahead for you?
I’ll probably get 1OAK open again at some point. I’ve been so busy with The Ned. The only reason I would reopen it is I think I have an obligation to New York City because they miss it so much. Although I’ve moved on and have a lot to focus on with this hotel, I feel like New York deserves the return of 1OAK nightclub. There are of course some cool spots, TAO group does a great job, Little Sister, and I also love The Box. OAK back in the mix would be fun.
Would you do it in the same space? Is that even possible?
It is possible. I still have the space. Now it’s the decision of whether it’s a new era, should I start fresh and give it a whole new facelift.