Morgans Hotels has acquired the Light Group to consult and run the food and beverage program across all Morgans hotel properties, just as predicted when news broke that both Sam Talbot and Armin Amiri had been bounced from their respective posts at the Mondrian Soho. The deal gives the Light Group's partners a chance to cash out big time, and according to Morgans CEO Michael Gross, it "fulfills our strategic goal of having industry-leading F&B capabilities in-house." Light Group founder Andrew Sasson is also fired up by the deal, saying, "we are looking forward to creating and assisting with food and beverage concepts within Morgans Hotel Group properties."
And why wouldn't he be? The deal gives Morgans the chance to immediately count the Light Group's profits as part of their bottom line, and gives the Light Group the chance to extend their unique brand of fun outside of Las Vegas and into New York (and California, London and Miami) where the restaurants and bars in Morgans' hotel fell off the trend map as new boutique properties like the Ace Hotel have became the indie darlings of the hotel world.
The Light Group's desert operation consists mainly of restaurants with established/staid concepts (Dos Caminos esque Mexican, large format Japanese/sushi) delivered to mass audiences that roll through Las Vegas and nightclubs that are just a step behind the Tao Strategic Group's venues. With this deal, Morgans hopes that their magic formula can be exported to their boutique hotels. But will it work? It seems like an odd play, since these places are already filled with dining options that are probably superior to whatever the Light Group offers, but maybe they know something that we don't.
There is also the manner of how the Light Group is accused of doing business. Don't forget that the company was forced to settle a recent lawsuit brought by a former cocktail waitress who accused them of encouraging drug use, sexual harassment, and flying employees across state lines to "party" with Light Group VIP's. The settlement led the company to hire a new CEO. Now these two companies have to find a way to merge in order to try and make Morgans Hotel's a cool place to be again. It will be interesting to see how this all works out.
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