Debauchery at Block No. 16, grub at Bub’s at the Ballpark, a few drinks at Bootlegger and an over-stuffed sandwich at Lucky’s Lunch Counter… If these spark some memories of good times from 2012, you can begin to imagine just what kind of year Ty Hauter had.
The man behind some of our favorite watering holes and dance floors in East Village has been an unstoppable force of culture-creation. Hauter’s “Entertainment Alley” concept was fully realized this year, as we watched Block No. 16 add to the roster of hot nightclubs and most recently saw the Blind Burro baja coastal cuisine take over the old Fleetwood space. We chatted with Hauter to reveal his biggest achievements of the year, what we can expect from him in 2013 and his keys to success.
DiscoverSD: First off, explain the concept of “Entertainment Alley”
Ty Hauter: It’s taken a few years, but piece by piece, we’re putting together multiple concepts side by side in the area. The idea is that when people come down here, they have an alternative to the 5th Avenue, so to speak. So far it seems to be working. We’ve got the nightclub and entertainment stage up and running this year and now the Blind Burro coming on in the old Fleetwood space. Plus, another lounge concept coming in between the two called the Cat Eye Club. So in a one-stop shop, we’ll end up with five venues in East Village. In the spring, we’ll start working on the sixth.
DSD: What’s the update on Blind Burro and Cat Eye Club?
TH: Blind Burro opened last Friday, and it’s off to a very good start. The Cat Eye Club should open the first week of January.
DSD: Your lineup is diverse - a speakeasy, a college sports bar, a dance club, etc. How do they complement each other?
TH: We try to cross brand them all, so if you go to one establishment for dinner and you keep you receipt, you can come into the nightclub that evening free of charge.
DSD: Next project?
TH: In the spring were building a new venue called Moonshine Flats that’s a Southern Rock dance concept. It’ll be like the big hangout - something you would see more in Austin, Texas with a big 100-foot long bar and multiple levels. Really interactive.
DSD: Biggest achievement of 2012?
TH: Probably just bringing the whole Entertainment Alley concept to life. Block No. 16 was huge. It was such a big undertaking construction wise; we had to do so much to the actual venue just to get it to where it is now. Plus, a lot of the programming went along with the entertainment as far as the lights and sound and video elements to it. I’m also extremely happy with the Blind Burro. I think it takes our group to the next level as far as food concept goes. It’s about producing solid food concepts and we want to get more into that, raising the bar. Really putting more flavor into the establishments.
DSD: Goal for 2013?
TH: The biggest thing will be getting Moonshine Flats built and open. Then, just really hunkering down and branding the area in all the venues that we’ve created. I think that’s probably where the majority of our energy is going to go.
DSD: How do you see Blind Burro and Cat Eye Club providing that interactive experience?
TH: With Blind Burro - like everyone else in town - we do a Taco Tuesday night, but we do ours a little different. The whole production of building the tacos and dressing the tacos takes place right on the table. It’s kind of cool and makes it interactive. We’re also really getting into a lot of specialty cocktails on the bar side of Blind Burro. We’re going to be changing up the menu quite frequently with daily and weekly specials and all along be very price-conscious.
The Cat Eye Club is a little bit different. It’s small; it only holds 49 people. The whole backdrop of it is a late 1950s/1960s Mad Men look to it. As opposed to the craft cocktail things that have popped up over the last couple years, we’re going back to the classic cocktails from that era. We’re getting into the bourbons, the scotches, the martinis, some high-end champagne, flavored champagne and more. The idea is to mimic a penthouse apartment in New York. It’s not about packing in the masses. I’ll be extremely happy if I walk to Cat Eye on a Friday night and there’s 30 people in there just having a good time lounging. It’s not about the hustle and bustle of the nightclub venue at all.
DSD: Keys to success?
TH: The biggest thing quite frankly is just the team we’ve assembled. From the management all the way to the marketing and general staff. We’ve been able to retain a lot of people. We’ve also been able to grow a lot of people. Most of my general managers are actually managing partners, so they have a piece of each establishment that they’re running.
Discover more photos from the Blind Burro soft opening
Stay tuned for more updates on Ty Hauter projects by following our DiscoverSD blog