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Nightclubs are closing or turning into restaurants to survive



Nightclubs are closing or turning into restaurants to survive

When the Big Apple finally returns to being “the city that never sleeps,” there will be far fewer places to dance the night away.

While celebrity hot spots like 1Oak are expected to reopen when pandemic restrictions lift, other popular clubs have already become casualties of the deadly disease and its curfews, including Avenue, Up & Down and Vandal. Other clubs, like Noir in Chelsea, have turned into restaurants to survive.

Tao Group has permanently shuttered two of its five nightclubs: Vandal on the Bowery — a pre-COVID hot spot for celebs like Ariana Grande and the Jonas Brothers — and Avenue, once a popular watering hole for Lindsay Lohan and Justin Timberlake.

Tao Group tried to save Avenue, where international fraudster Jho Low once dropped $160,000 in a single night, by renegotiating the space’s lease, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

But the landlord decided to up and sell the building for $9 million to the B&R Tenth Avenue LLC, according to records. The new owners, one source said, plan to tear down the building to make way for a new office tower.

Fellow club czar Richie Akiva told Side Dish that his West Village club Up & Down, popular with stars like Rihanna and Tyson Beckford, is also closing. “It had become a big brand but after the pandemic, simplifying things is a better solution,” Akiva said.

The club king will reopen his legendary 1Oak in the city’s Meatpacking district when the city permits, however. The infamous club is where Rihanna hosted an after party following the Met gala in 2017 and where ex-New York Knicks player Chris Copeland was stabbed outside in 2015, leading to the arrest of two other NBA players who were later cleared of wrongdoing.

It’s not just the curfew that’s killing the nightclub industry — most NYC nightclubs operate in large spaces with few windows and no kitchens, making it tough to pivot during the pandemic.

Noir in Chelsea is among the few clubs that has been able to make the transition, thanks in part to the partial kitchen it had in place prior to the pandemic.

“We didn’t have a deep fryer or a hood, so we just got creative,” said Phil Zelonky, Noir’s owner.

Zelonky hired an executive chef and created a menu that focused on a raw bar and sushi, which “took the pressure off,” he said. And Noir continues to cater to the club crowd with “bottle parades” offered by masked servers who pour $2,000 plus-sized bottles of Moet Chandon champagne — known as magnums — directly into seated people’s mouths.

“We had to reinvent ourselves,” Zelonky said.

Noir first reopened as a restaurant on Oct. 12 before shutting down again when indoor dining ended in December. It reopened on Feb. 13 with just “six or seven main tables and a few high tops” in the vast 5,600 square foot space — making it ideal for social distancing.

“We are a place for people to let loose. People are still popping bottles, but at their tables. People enjoy the food and music and bottle service and have their own little party in a safe way at their table,” Zelonky said.

It’s going so well, so far, that Zelonky tells Side Dish Noir will continue to serve as a restaurant six days a week at the start of the evenings, before morphing back into its old self — an old school late night club — when the city and state permit.

Two of Tao’s five nightclubs — Tao Downtown Nightclub and Lavo Nightclub — are also now providing limited restaurant service, while its Marquee club is sitting dormant just waiting for the pandemic to lift, sources said.

Eddie Dean, who owned the legendary club Pacha NY and now owns Schimanski in Williamsburg, said he considered pivoting but decided against it.

“We weren’t a restaurant, and we couldn’t go from putting on shows to selling chicken wings on the sidewalk,” Dean said.

Dean will, however, reopen Schimanski as soon as he gets the green light from the city and state.

Owners of closed clubs say they hope to reopen at a later date, but also acknowledge that it could be tough thanks to the rise of one-off parties in large warehouses in the outer boroughs promoted on social media — a trend that’s expected to return in full force post-pandemic.

“New York’s nightclubs were already struggling. COVID was the kiss of death,” said Noah Tepperberg, co-founder of The Tao Group. “We need a mayor who will stand up for nightlife. Without it, we will lose the city that never sleeps. Nightlife is what makes the city so special.”

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Goldman Sachs reportedly plans to move more than 100 bankers to Florida



Goldman Sachs reportedly plans to move more than 100 bankers to Florida

Working from home is no longer an option at Goldman Sachs — but working from Florida might be another story.

More than 100 key Goldman Sachs employees are reportedly poised to migrate from the firm’s New York headquarters to a new office in Palm Beach, Florida.

The snub to the Big Apple — which comes as Goldman bankers reported back to the office on Monday after more than a year of working remotely — would mark a shift in Goldman’s more than 150-year-old, New York-centric strategy at the hands of Chief Executive David Solomon.

The Florida expansion is in the early stages and a few employees have made firm commitments, according to a report from Business Insider (paywall). Among those who have expressed interest in moving are partners in the firm, whose salaries start at $950,000 not including bonuses and other perks.

“High-performing managing directors or vice presidents are also being encouraged to relocate, to signal that the office won’t be considered a backwater that kneecaps their Wall Street career,” the report said, citing an unnamed source.

Staffers who move to Florida will not be expected to take a pay cut, according to the report.

Goldman executives at the global markets division, which includes the the core sales and trading operations, will select which members of the team to send, with the idea that “each cluster would be an offshoot of a larger team based in New York and made up of as many as eight or 10 people,” the report said.

Marc Nachmann, co-head of the trading division, commutes regularly from Boca Raton, which could be part of the reason behind the migration. The other head of trading, Ashok Varadhan, is based in New York.

Florida’s sunshine and low taxes made it a haven as coronavirus has shut down New York City. But it’s unclear whether CEO Solomon — who called working from home during the pandemic an “aberration” that was not a “new normal” — will be pleased with large swaths of employees moving to Florida permanently.

As reported by The Post, Goldman’s Asset Management division had been planning to expand its presence in Florida but a lack of interest has stalled those plans. When employees were polled on the cost-saving idea — with managers informally sounding out the rank-and-file, and the company even sending out an email survey — the bank was met with a notable scarcity of snowbirds, sources told The Post.

Goldman has previously dismissed the idea that the firm is planning major relocations.

“As announced at our investor day in January 2020, we are executing on the strategy of locating more jobs in high value locations throughout the US, but we have no specific plans to announce at this time,” Goldman said in a statement.

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El Salvador volcanoes to power bitcoin mining



El Salvador volcanoes to power bitcoin mining

Bitcoin is red-hot in El Salvador — and the country says it plans to use power from its volcanoes to mine it.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele — just hours after the country’s legislature approved the “Bitcoin Law,” making it the first to accept Bitcoin as legal tender — revealed Wednesday that the nation’s state-owned geothermal electric company will harness volcanic energy to mine the cryptocurrency.

Bukele said the country is already designing a mining hub that will use “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable” energy from volcanoes to power the operation, which effectively would be a bank of super-powered computers that solve the complex mathematical equations required to mine Bitcoin.

“Our engineers just informed me that they dug a new well,” Bukele tweeted, saying it would generate 95 megawatts of energy — enough to power more than 500 homes for a year. “What you see coming out of the well is pure water vapor.”

Bukele — who is looking to lower transaction fees on the $6 billion in yearly remittances sent to its citizens from abroad — has yet, however, to reveal when the new operation will be live or how many Bitcoins he expects to be able to mine.

It’s been a bullish week for Bitcoin in El Salvador. The digital coin can now be used as payment for goods, services, and taxes in the public and private sector. Bitcoin rose 6 percent on the news, according to data from Coindesk.

According to a study by Cambridge University, Bitcoin mining consumes more energy per year than the Philippines. Elon Musk has met with Bitcoin miners about environmental concerns, recently citing them as he announced Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment.

Details about the mining efforts and how El Salvador will widely adopt Bitcoin remain vague. The law states it will provide “the necessary training and mechanisms” to allow the 70 percent of its citizens that don’t have access to traditional banking services to understand how they can use Bitcoin but didn’t elaborate.

Still, Bukele remains an enthusiastic advocate for the currency and his mining project. Late Thursday he tweeted drone footage of the new mine with a rainbow in the background.

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China arrests 1,100 crypto users on money laundering charges



China arrests 1,100 crypto users on money laundering charges

China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies is heating up with a series of arrests that suggest digital currency users can be traced.

More than 1,100 people who allegedly used cryptocurrencies to launder profits from frauds were arrested Wednesday, the country’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement. 

The busts involved 170 criminal groups who authorities say hired “coin farmers” to open crypto accounts after bank accounts they used for their alleged scams had been seized.

“The high illegal income attracts a large number of people to participate, causing serious social harm,” the ministry said of the alleged plots.

The arrests may cast further doubt on the supposed un-traceability of cryptocurrencies. On Tuesday, the price of bitcoin fell almost 12 percent after it was revealed that US authorities were able to reclaim most of a bitcoin ransom that Colonial Pipeline paid to hacker group DarkSide in May. 

“Criminals have been using bitcoin because of the supposed inability of governments to get at it,” Anthony Denier, CEO of trading platform Webull, told the Post on Tuesday. “If governments can claw it back, that hurts its appeal.” 

Wednesday’s arrests are part of a broader Chinese crackdown on crypto. They come less than a month after the government called for greater regulation of digital currencies.

A committee presided over by a member of China’s Politburo wrote in May that it is necessary to “crack down on bitcoin mining and trading behavior, and resolutely prevent the transmission of individual risks to the social field.” 

Worries about bitcoin’s traceability and the looming threat of government regulations have sent the cryptocurrency plummeting from its peak of more than $63,000 in April. Bitcoin was trading at about $37,600 Thursday morning. 

Additional reporting by Will Feuer

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