In an era where Manhattan’s “it” spots seem to expire in a New York minute, few nighttime playgrounds ever achieve any real staying power. However, Chelsea’s 1 Oak—short for “One of a kind”—has seemingly broken the mold.
So what’s the secret? First and foremost it’s about the people—both the principals running the show and the clientele that become the evening’s cast. The Butter Group’s Scott Sartiano, Richie Akiva and Ronnie Madra (also behind Butter Restaurant, an amalgamation of nightclub and nouveau American bistro) undeniably “get” this.
1 Oak New York famously opened under the pretense that getting in was not about the money and that you can’t buy your way in. This will mean a departure from Las Vegas’ general-admission mentality that has tourists lining up early expecting to get in. However, 1 Oak Las Vegas will have a capacity of just 1,700, compared with XS, which does upward of 8,400 covers a night. For obvious reasons, 1 Oak Las Vegas will handpick its clientele.
Since its opening, 1 Oak New York’s doormen have been procuring the “right” mix of people to ensure that the B&T (code for the Ed Hardy-wearing non-New Yorkers who have crossed the bridge to get there) are kept at bay. What does get you in here is having the right look, a small party with a balanced male-to-female ratio, and a good attitude that makes the doormen think you will add to the party.
Once beyond 1 Oak New York’s ropes, the anointed first enter the vestibule of the 6,000-square-foot Roy Nachum-designed space that has become quite comfortable to scenesters over the past five years: hand-painted black-and-white flooring, rich oak walls covered in phrases etched in 3-D relief and original Nachum prints above the booths. This atmosphere makes it typical to spot media, society, nightlife and celebrity luminaries who regularly grace Page Six. For instance, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, the cast of Gossip Girl and other A-listers can regularly be seen tucked away in lush leather banquets enjoying open-format hip-hop, house and ’80s mash-ups.
As the Butter Group gets set to transform the former Jet space at The Mirage into 1 Oak Las Vegas and forge a new partnership with the Light Group, Sartiano is quick to point out that the Butter Group’s relationship with Light Group founder and chairman Andrew Sasson and CEO Andy Masi “has been friendly for a long time, and their local expertise made for a good marriage of the two brands.” He also makes it clear that what the Butter Group is bringing to Las Vegas is “1 Oak, not something else,” and that this will be apparent from the moment Fergie raises the curtain on New Year’s Eve. Guests will be greeted by a Munge Leung-designed product that is “similar to the New York brand”—including the signature design elements black-and-white floors and more Nachum murals—but, of course, “bigger, brighter and louder.”
1 Oak Las Vegas “will book some big DJs here and there,” Sartiano says, “but in general it will be similar to New York—open format.” Regarding your chances of ever getting in to hear those DJs, Sartiano explains that in addition to group size, guy/girl ratio and look, “We are looking for people who will be adding to the party, [who are] sexy, sophisticated, cool, and approach the rope with a nice demeanor.” To cultivate what Sartiano portends will be “the best crowd that goes to Vegas,” 1 Oak doorman Parker Wittbrodt will be manning the Las Vegas ropes. “He has been [at 1 Oak New York] since the beginning, and we will bring in local people as well. [There is a] New York way we do things. Staff are moving [to Las Vegas] to put our own spin on Vegas nightlife, and we will be local-friendly of course.”