Over the past several years, Ryan Labbe and Jason “JRoc” Craig have become prominent figures in Las Vegas’ hospitality scene. The dynamic duo has cemented their presence by consulting for nearly every major nightlife company in town through their business 81/82 Group. They specialize in an array of services such as marketing campaigns and operational management for high-profile events, spaces and brands. Labbe and Craig often partner with Andy Masi’s company Clique Hospitality on various venues, creating an ultimate match made in nightlife heaven.
For the first time since they joined forces in 2012, Labbe and Craig are extending their talents beyond Las Vegas, branching off into the San Diego nightlife scene. They are managing partners with Clique Hospitality on two chic new gathering places within the Pendry Hotel, set to open soon. Their venues include outdoor haven Pool House and refined lounge Oxford Social Club. “Our target demo is 21-year-olds to that guy that’s 50 years old that still wants to go out and party, [but] doesn’t want the hustle and bustle of a large nightclub, something that’s a bit more intimate and fun with a good vibe,” Labbe says.
The behind-the-scenes operations have proven to be no simple task for Craig and Labbe, as they continue to manage several Las Vegas projects while balancing the opening of the Pendry properties. “[We’re doing] everything from head to toe,” Labbe says. “We’re building the team— from the host team to the waitstaff, the management staff. [We’re] securing talent, putting marketing initiatives together, really setting the tone for how we’re going to program the venue in San Diego to create our own niche. San Diego is very interesting because it’s such a small big city, if that makes any sense. Everybody’s so tied in together, it’s really important that you’re fully ingrained in the city.”
When it comes to the expectations surrounding the venues, Craig insists that the duo will continue to make patrons their No. 1 priority, much like when working in Vegas. “For us it’s all about customer experience. Every venue is different, but at the end of the day, we want our customers walking out of there feeling like they got the experience they were looking for,” he says. “That [credit] goes to our staff, known [for] the way that they treat customers and the programming that we have, kind of like the full circle of not just meeting expectations but exceeding the expectations of our guests.”
While launching high-profile venues in a different city is bound to be challenging, Labbe prefers to look at these obstacles as learning experiences. “In Las Vegas, when I first moved here and as long as JRoc’s lived here, we eat, breathe and sleep Las Vegas. So getting to go and do that in [another] market, it’s something new and fun for us because it’s very different. Out here, you can program huge talents at huge venues and have these customers come out who’ll spend $10,000 to $100,000 on a table. In San Diego, the market is more about who’s in the venue and at the party and the way everybody’s treated. That’s really interesting to us because that’s how we perceive things when we go to a venue.”
Despite their newfound love for San Diego, both Labbe and Craig do not foresee a departure from Vegas anytime soon. “There are opportunities in San Diego that we’ve been exploring, but we’re always going to have something going on in Las Vegas,” Craig says. “Vegas is the top market in the country for what we do. Food and beverage and nightlife—there’s nothing like Las Vegas, and there’s a lot of opportunity.”
“We would love to have more [projects] in San Diego in the future, but for at least [for now], I think Vegas will be our home,” Labbe says. “The end goal is to grow our company as far as we can grow it and hopefully have some sort of part-time residence in San Diego. It’s such a beautiful city. JRoc and I would also like to venture into some different projects in Las Vegas outside of casinos, some more locally driven [ventures], because we have a huge support system.”