The expansion of big nightclub brands into large or even tourist markets is the talk of the town — many towns, in fact. Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Atlantic City can support variations on the themes that have spelled success in a brand’s original city, but can this success also be achieved in secondary markets?
Nightlife opportunities may lie in familiar towns of moderate size in which the local community would embrace a brand exported from a larger market. It is probably just a matter of time before Americans in smaller cities demand the services experienced operators have developed and honed to perfection in the party capitals of the world.
Scott Sartiano, co-owner of New York-based Butter Group, has evolved this concept, finding great success with Butter NC nightclub in Charlotte, N.C. Of course, Sartiano receives far more attention by way of New York restaurant Butter; the Monday night soirees in Butter’s basement lounge have been home to boldface names for a decade. Sartiano also gets accolades and big press with the 1OAK brand in its New York and now Las Vegas locations. Another Sartiano gem, The Darby, is all the rage in Manhattan, and its downstairs lounge is one of the best places in town. Butter NC may be but a blip on Sartiano’s corporate radar, but a it’s blip of which he is very proud.
Scott Sartiano has had great success with Butter NC nightclub in Charlotte, N.C.
"It's the best place down there, and it can hold its own anywhere,” he says, like a loving parent. Nightclub Confidential sat down with Sartiano to discuss growing his brand in a smaller market.
Nightclub Confidential (NCC): Congrats on 1OAK Las Vegas and of course in New York as well as The Darby and Butter NYC. In all of this excitement, it's easy to forget your other venue, Butter NC. Tell us how you came to open a nightclub in Charlotte, N.C.
Scott Sartiano: Butter NC is a nightclub in Charlotte that is in close proximity to where I grew up, so that had a lot to do with opening there. Going back home to a certain extent. Our goal in Charlotte was to bring an NYC experience to Charlotte and create something special, and I definitely think we did that.
NCC: How are you transitioning from the hands-on, one-on-one world of operations promotions to opening up a fast-growing empire with three solid brands that include clubs and restaurants?
Sartiano: Expanding without losing the quality of product is always an issue. As always, you need to have a good team that can follow a formula or strategy that works on a macro level while also implementing things that make the product unique to a Butter Group product, whether its in NYC or Las Vegas.
NCC: The Charlotte market is very different than that of New York or Las Vegas. What are the upsides and downsides? Who are the VIPs?
Sartiano: VIPs are relevant in every market. There is always a local hierarchy of VIPs, and it’s important to get to know who they are and what they want. They are the tastemakers and ones that help drive business in that market. I wouldn't measure it in upsides and downsides. There are different challenges in getting to know the local market.
NCC: What changes has Butter NC made on the mindset of the local community?
Sartiano: I think we raised the bar in Charlotte as to what people expect when going to a nightclub. We built the best venue with the best music and provide a level of service second to no one.
NCC: Are great clubs in small markets an inevitability that others will exploit?
Sartiano: I think to a certain extent, if the market can support what it costs to build the venue.
NCC: Is the world getting smaller and smaller — meaning, are the differences becoming less profound from place to place?
Sartiano: Yes, I believe so. The Internet and blogs have made it easy to see what people in Vegas and NYC are doing, and people want to experience it whether they are in Charlotte or NYC. There are changes in preferences of music, entertainment, etc., but the underlying themes are people want a cool place with good music and good service no matter where you are.