Toshi just wants everyone to have a good time. That’s one of the first things the 38-year-old entrepreneur told The Observer as we sat on the bench outside his Flatiron Hotel. It was only 5:30 p.m., and inside the hotel’s groovy restaurant, brightly colored drinks were passed around as a woman in a sparkly white dress covered a Beyoncé song in a smoky, lounge-y growl.
Through the crowd, you could see into the Flatiron’s lobby, with its two-story cylindrical aquarium filled with exotic undersea creatures, including a remora, a type of suckerfish that resembles a shark and gets around by attaching itself to bigger fish.
The first floor is called Toshi’s Playground. “I just made these signs, look!” said Toshi (real name Robert Chan), pointing to an anime rendition of his dog, Ponzu. Ponzu is a Morkie, we were informed: half Maltese, half Yorkie.
Graphics of Toshi and Ponzu are everywhere: above a red velvet throne that greets customers when they walk in, and almost subliminally painted around the white-on-white minimalist penthouse where Toshi throws his parties.
Unfortunately for non-Ponzus, the Flatiron does not allow other dogs inside.
Ponzu’s ubiquity is more than just a cute gimmick. It’s part of a strategic rebranding of his master as a fun-loving nightlife figure, after Toshi’s last such effort backfired. Read More