The lives of New York's nightlife and hospitality industry workers are the polar opposites of office workers. On Eater Weekends, the promoters, bartenders, servers and owners, and everyone else that helps make this industry go recount their nocturnal routines in their own words. Today is Jayma Cardoso, managing partner of Lavo New York, and owner of Goldbar and The Surf Lodge in Montauk, and her Saturday routine.
I arrive at 1 PM to put together the game plan for Lavo’s weekly brunch party. I’m a little cranky, but when my wonderful manager Patrick DuxBury greets me with a coffee, I start to feel better. Andrew Goldberg and I sit down and review all the brunch reservations and do the floor map for brunch. I put a lot of my focus on this - I know all of our guests and what they like and don’t like and then I fit the tables together like a puzzle. If you pair tables correctly then our guests wind up making new friends, feed off each others energy and create a family atmosphere where everyone feels connected. Andrew notes that we're overbooked but we'll manage to fit everyone in. He either knows magic or is a miracle worker, either way he always makes it happen.
We finish then first pass on seating chart and then at 1:45 I head out of office while our managing partner Paul Goldstein holds his pre-shift meeting with the staff. It’s actually part game plan and part motivation speech. Paul has an uncanny ability to make you feel like you can do anything. I jump in to congratulate the staff for an incredible performance the week before and then run outside to talk with Rich Thomas. Rich knows our guests so well and always has some thoughts on how to create the best room.
A line has already formed outside the door and the tables are starting to arrive. I run inside and do a quick tour of restaurant floor and at 2:30pm, I am running downstairs to meet with our stylist and go over dancer costumes for brunch and tonight. Dancers wear three outfits for brunch but I only like two of them so I ask the stylist to come up with a different option #3. I am back upstairs at 3:00 pm but when a regular shows up without a reservation so it’s time to pull an audible. I radio Andrew to come to the rescue.
Noah Tepperberg walks in at 3:30 and we discuss what's going on in the room. At 4 PM I have to go downstairs to the club to see Rocco Ancarola and discuss the launch of "Italian Riviera Sundays" and to meet with the Gypsy Kings who are performing. We review the sound system and logistics for the restaurant but can only go by the blueprints because the restaurant is preoccupied by now a full on brunch party.
By 4:30 I am back upstairs and the party is ON. I start doing a round of table to table visits with guests. I speak 4 languages and I am using all of them as we have guests from Barcelona, Milano and Sao Paulo. Fortunately, Brazil was my last table so I didn’t get myself tongue tied. I take a moment to stick my head in the kitchen to get a bite to eat, but at 5:00pm I get a bad phone call from Denmark that tonight’s DJ flight is delayed and he won’t land in NYC until 9pm. At 5:30, I start walking the restaurant floor, grabbing lose chairs to make some more room, as now everyone is dancing. Pass by Noah’s table and he convinces me to do a shot, he is such a tempter demon but he’s hard to resist. Noah’s doing his Dougie dance move; which always make me laugh. Brunch ends at 6:15 when the lights come on and our signature song to end brunch, "Don't worry about a thing" by Bob Marley goes on. The place is still going crazy but we have to clear everyone out to turn the restaurant around in time for dinner at 7pm and it is fully booked.
I jump in a cab and start reviewing the e-vite invitation for Ultra in Miami, where we’re hosting the VIP tent and then I call Jon Lennon about Goldbar where I have a party coming in tonight and then discuss seating for our other guests. Jon takes me through his plans for Sunday Funday and as always he has everything all lined up for another great night. Then I call Lavo to see how many reservations we have tonight for the restaurant and club. I also email our front of the house crew to motivate them and remind them to get on their phones and let everyone know about our incredible DJ for tonight. Then I call the promo team to see how they are doing in preparation for tonight.
Marc Packer calls me to speak with me about one of his friends coming in tonight. He really cares about how people are treated, and wants to make sure everything is perfect. I find some time to review acts for The Surf Lodge concert series this summer, which seems so far away. I cancel my trainer appointment and make something quick to eat. A regular guest asks me for a table at Beauty and Essex, so I call my partner Rich Wolf. He says they are slammed but he figures out how to squeeze them in. This is lost upon some folks, but some of my regular guests are now my very close friends and some feel like my family, so taking care of them is always a priority. I jump in the shower at 8 PM and then look for outfit #2 of the day. I am having clothes drama and can't find anything to wear. I change shoes 6 times before I find what I like. My Blackberry is slammed with BBMs, texts, lot's of follow up, and I wish I had 5 thumbs.
At 9:45pm I arrive at Lavo and check in with Paul. I don’t know how he does it, he has a smile on his face and hasn’t left the restaurant since this morning. I stop by the maitre'd stand ask for them to point out to me two tables I need to visit, and then I spot table of beautiful girls and tell the manager to extend them an invitation for the club. At 10 PM, the Lavo nightclub GM holds his pre-shift meeting and I listen in from the background. They have it covered. I do a quick call with Noah about tonight’s game plan and then I head into back office to review tonight's guest list. We're overbooked, but I notice that 4 of the tables were here earlier today for brunch, which makes me feel better as there is no way all 4 guests are making it back for tonight.
I go over all the names, highlight tables that should be seated in certain areas and then sit down with Jamie Hatchet and Shawn Kolodny to assign tables and do the floor map. Jamie laughs because he knows I’ll be changing the floor map a few more times before the night get’s underway. I head outside and speak to the doorman about the guest list and give details on the specifics of each guest. Then a guest who is at Tao texts so I run over to say hello. Tao amazes me, it’s packed 10 years and counting, but I have to run back to Lavo to brief cocktail waitresses on tonight’s guests and then I have to speak with head of security to discuss his game plan. We spend a lot of time on security to insure that things are as prepared as they can be. It’s 11:15pm and I get a call that the DJ has finally arrived at JFK, what a relief. Most of the tables start to arrive around midnight. It’s amazing how everyone all shows up at the same time.
It’s 30 minutes of fast and furious work for every staff member from coat check to bus boy as everyone is running to get the night underway. At 12:45 the club is packed. DJ Morten Breum finally arrives at 1 AM after he’s been traveling all day, so I make sure we go out of our way to make him feel welcomed. He goes on around 1 AM and the energy is amazing. At 1:15, I do my first round of squeeze and greets. Lot’s of hugs tonight as there are a lot of familiar faces. 1:45 I go upstairs and check on the door, which is still moving strong. At 2:30am, the dancers start coming out with the 3rd costume change and the energy level of the club feels great. By 3 AM, everyone is dancing and the Champagne bottles are in the air and I have smile on my face as one of my favorite guests is talking and now laughing with a beautiful girl that he told me earlier he always wanted to meet. I reconfigured their tables so they’d be next to each other. Both of them are beautiful people inside and out which makes me even happier. Someone once told me if you help 5 people find their true love you go to heaven. I hope so, as by now, I’ve earned a parking space.
I see Jamie and Sean sitting a couple tables and I can’t believe we’re still moving strong. Look at floor and everything looks in order so it's time to relax with some of our guests and have a drink or two or three. 4am lights go up and the room is half full, nobody wants to go home but I let security know to start directing guests to the door cause unless they work here it’s time to go. 4:20am what am I still doing here? Jamie and Sean have me laughing, I think we’re all delirious from exhaustion. Vinny, one of our bar backs is moving to Vegas to work at Marquee, we get staff together for a toast and let him know how much we’ll miss him. At 4:45am in cab on my way home, exhausted? I’m mad at myself for staying up this late. Saturday is my toughest day of the week, it’s basically a double header with brunch from 2pm till 6pm, followed by just another night on the town until 5am. But that’s Saturday
· Lavo Coverage [~ENY~]
· A Night in the Life [~ENY~]
· Nightlife Coverage [~ENY~]
Image Morgan Miller Photography