Impresario Mike Satsky has what he calls a “LeBron James attitude” when it comes to his Lily Pond nightclub in East Hampton.
“Our product and what we bring to the table we feel is extremely valuable and we feel like we’re the only ones doing it, even though there are other people in the business, just like there are other basketball players who are incredible,” Mr. Satsky told the Daily Transom last week.
The swanky 7,000-square-foot party spot, which had Lauren Conrad of MTV’s The Hills helicoptered in for a photo op last summer, opened for its sophomore season over Memorial Day weekend, with fashionable New York Rangers forward Sean Avery reportedly manning the door on Saturday night, May 23.
Despite a sluggish world economic situation that has even the preferred summer playground of the rich and famous feeling the pinch, Mr. Satsky tried to sound optimistic about the uncertain season ahead.
“I feel this summer could be even better than last summer,” he boldly predicted. “It could be something very advantageous to us, the recession. A lot of people that go to Europe may not go to Europe this year. So maybe they’ll go to the Hamptons and that’s where they’re going to spend their extra dollars.”
What’s new at Lily Pond this summer? “Here’s what’s new—overall, nothing,” Mr. Satsky admitted. Just a few tweaks. “The sound is upgraded, the seating is upgraded, the cabanas are upgraded,” he said.
Heck, even the cocktail waitresses are upgraded. “My waitresses are hands-down the most beautiful waitress staff in the Hamptons,” he boasted. “I handpicked them myself! And they go through a rigorous routine to do so,” he added, laughing. “That’s the cherry on top! They’re fire.”
Mr. Satsky, 31, can aggrandize with the best of them, his penchant for promotion proven by a plethora of Page Six mentions, dating back to his days at Stereo, the now-defunct West Chelsea spot he once dubbed the “Yankee Stadium for DJs.”
Popular with celebrities, as well as police, Stereo unceremoniously closed in January 2008, with Mr. Satsky and his former business partner at the club, Barry Mullineaux, each going their separate ways.
Yet, its legacy lives on, if only in Mr. Satsky’s vision for the future.
“When I opened Stereo in 2005, it was such a different type of venue because our music program, the West Coast style of hip-hop mixed with rock ‘n’ roll, was not really something that was played in the clubs regularly,” Mr. Satsky said.
“The DJ AM–style of deejaying,” he went on, referring to the renowned turntablist Adam Goldstein, “was not considered normal for New York City. It was the Mark Ronson era. He was the greatest and the godfather. Mark Ronson would play a record and then he would go into another record and his timing and execution was impeccable. That was the standard in New York City. Then AM came in and did this whole mash-up, scratching situation, and at Stereo, that’s what we showcased every second of every night. And then every other venue bit that formula. And now all the venues today still use that formula.”
Mr. Satsky said he is aiming to set an entirely new standard, à la Stereo, in September, when his newest Manhattan nightspot opens in the meatpacking district.
“Breaking ground?” asked Elon Kenchington, general manager at the Hotel Gansevoort, where Mr. Satsky was chatting with the Daily Transom one recent afternoon.
For the record, Mr. Satsky declined to get into the specific location or concept, stating only in soaring terms, “It’s going to change the direction of nightlife in New York City and bring a real different flavor to the United States.”
Another guy trying to change the direction of nightlife in the city is Mr. Satsky’s former partner at Stereo, Mr. Mullineaux, who joined up with fellow impresario Jon Bakhshi, a.k.a. Jon B., in launching the eco-friendly themed Greenhouse nightclub in Soho last year with the stated aim of transforming the ever-wasteful hospitality industry.
Mr. Satsky, though, seemed unimpressed by his ex-associate’s latest effort.
“I think that it’s kind of cookie-cutter,” Mr. Satsky said of Greenhouse. “They’re not really looking to make a difference,” he went on, rattling off a list of Mr. Bakhski’s other venues, “Home, Guest House, Mr. West, Greenhouse—it’s the same thing.”
He added, “I don’t know one person that goes there. Not one.”
Naturally, Mr. Mullineaux took issue with his estranged contemporary’s critique.
“Everybody goes to Greenhouse,” countered Mr. Mullineaux. “It’s much different than Home or Guest House, contrary to what Mike said. We’re one of the only clubs in the city open seven nights a week. We do a variety of everything. Monday nights, we do all rock ‘n’ roll, live music acts; Friday nights, we do European house music; Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have the hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll mash-ups. I bring in a lot of the old Stereo crowd in on those nights. It’s a good mix.”
Mr. Mullineaux suggested his former friend and colleague was still “bitter” over Stereo’s shuttering. (The two haven’t spoken in about a year, he said.)
“He had no say in anything,” Mr. Mullineaux said, noting that Mr. Satsky was originally brought in as promotional director at Stereo, having no real ownership or equity interest in the actual business. “I had no choice but to side with the investors,” Mr. Mullineaux said. “I couldn’t side with him and he took it personally.”
Mr. Satsky pointed out that he did own trademark rights to the Stereo brand and added that he invested in the defunct club’s initial renovation. He also took credit for establishing the venue’s celebrity cred. “All the high-profile guests that were there were my friends,” he said.
In the aftermath of Stereo’s demise, Mr. Satsky has needed to adjust his business model to better suit the way of life in far-flung East Hampton, specifically to make up for what he described as a serious supermodel gap. “We’re not living in New York City, where, in a 10-block radius, there are, say, 30 supermodels,” he noted. “A lot of that background beauty is not fully available in East Hampton. So, you know, we do what we can to bring in our friends from New York City.”
It has been challenging, to say the least.
“Every day at Lily Pond is a miracle,” Mr. Satsky told the Daily Transom. “Every one of my friends in the business urged me, ‘Do not do this. Nobody’s in East Hampton. You have no one to choose from. Everyone’s in the south. You only have families in the east. You have some big hitters in the east, but nothing that’s going to make enough camaraderie to make it successful.’ I really went out on a limb to do something in East Hampton. The space, for eight years, has been tried and failed, tried and failed. We gave it our all and every day is a miracle.”