Noah Tepperberg’s Recipe for Mastering the Art of Hospitality

From party promoter to hospitality powerhouse, Tao Group's Noah Tepperberg shares his recipe for success.

Noah Tepperberg. Noah Tepperberg

Noah Tepperberg’s rise to the top reads like a blockbuster script. The global hospitality kingpin, and his longtime comrade Jason Strauss, have come a long way from their high school days as party promoters to the A-list of Observer’s Most Powerful People in Hospitality. “Starting in the pre-internet era honed my networking and people skills, crucial for my nearly three decades in the industry,” Tepperberg tells Observer. “Back in the ’90s, as a young entrepreneur, I didn’t realize the importance of those nights spent handing out business cards and flyers. Looking back, it’s clear that without that groundwork, Tao Group’s success wouldn’t have been possible.”

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From the inception of Chelsea’s Marquee, a club that recently celebrated two decades of extravagant nightlife, to the expansion of their unique business model from New York to Las Vegas, Tepperberg’s knack for merging dining and entertainment has been key to Tao Group Hospitality’s explosive growth. This success culminated in a $550 million acquisition by Mohari Group in 2023, marking another milestone in Tepperberg’s remarkable ascent.

Lavo Mexico City.

“Hospitality is a team sport,” Tepperberg reflects, noting that he and co-CEO Strauss began their partnership when they were just 18 years old, and are now approaching 50. “It’s rare in our industry to navigate as long and as successfully as we have, remaining best friends and partners as we’ve grown into very different individuals from those early days.” From London’s Hakkasan Hanway Place, awarded twelve consecutive Michelin stars, to Marrakech’s Ling Ling, Tao Group has its sights set on the world’s most enticing destinations. Their latest ventures include launching Lavo in London and Mexico City, and the SoFla-mboyant Casadonna Miami.

Tepperberg and his team are scrupulously expanding their footprint, bringing a unique spark of Tao Group’s hospitality to new markets. The plan? To continuously grow their global empire, shake things up and keep the party’s spirit alive.

Casadonna. Ngoc Minh Ngo

Tepperberg’s journey to launching projects in London and Miami was not a sudden revelation, but a culmination of years of planning, rooted in what he describes as “whimsical sophistication.” Collaborations with local luminaries Rishi Sachdev and Dave Grutman were pivotal for a tailored entry into these new territories, a strategy Tepperberg is replicating with the newly opened Lavo Mexico City. The menu showcases Mexico City’s bountiful produce, with innovative takes on traditional dishes like squash blossoms, chilis, nopales and dark Mexican chocolate.

“We fully embraced the rich culture of Mexico here. Even the mole is a cherished recipe from Javier Romo, our local partner at Lavo,” Tepperberg reveals to Observer. The venue’s design also thoughtfully reflects its locale, from curated Mexican art to native botanical gardens. “The botanical garden and landscaping are all native to Mexico. Even the murals of flowers and trees on our walls are of the native plants.” 

Mel’s. Jenn Kimmel

Back on Tepperberg’s New York home turf, Tao Group’s acquisition of Mel’s, in the former Del Posto location in Chelsea, signifies a shift from their usual upscale culinary ventures into the world of pizzerias. “Partnering with Jeff Katz and chef Mel Rodriguez was a no-brainer. It was love at first bite,” Tepperberg quips, dropping hints at plans to stretch the dough of this pizza concept globally. Scaling up, naturally, is fraught with challenges, a realm where Tepperberg excels in navigating. 

Consider the pivot following the closure of Lavo’s Midtown location in January 2024, due to its building’s sale and upcoming redevelopment. Tao Group adeptly reframed this challenge as a “temporary” hiccup. Forewarned by the new owners, the team had sufficient time to adapt to a solution increasingly relevant in the post-pandemic era: delivery. “It’s all about our team and maintaining the caliber of our offerings. The format—be it dine-in or delivery—is secondary,” Tepperberg asserts. The seamless transition of Lavo’s culinary team to a new kitchen ensured that fans didn’t miss out on their favorite dishes. “We’re always strategizing, ready for any eventuality. It’s our operational breadth that enables us to devise scalable solutions,” he adds, underscoring the foresight and adaptability at the heart of their success.

Beauty & Essex.

So, what’s next for Noah Tepperberg and the Tao Group, under Mohari Group’s new stewardship? With plans to broaden their global presence (currently boasting six Taos, five Lavo establishments and a third Beauty & Essex set to debut this year), their moves echo Tao Hospitality’s profound impact on nightlife in America. To merely say Tepperberg “transformed” Vegas would be an understatement. Tao Group has masterfully blended the allure of upscale dining and vibrant nightlife with hotel opulence. This elegant melding of top-tier dining with luxury hotel experiences has ignited the development of 15 unique food and beverage concepts for Marriott’s Moxy Hotels in Manhattan, all in under seven years. But why stop there when ambition knows no bounds?

The horizon sparkles with the imminent debut of Beauty & Essex at Mohegan Sun, aligning with Tao Group’s master blueprint for growth—nurturing existing partnerships and growing their major brands. Fostering fruitful collaborations is fundamental to their approach, particularly in locales already familiar with their brand magic.

Tepperberg is also attuned to a trend he terms “the phone eats first,” highlighting the digital era’s influence on our dining habits. Instead of looking down on social media food photography, he embraces it. “Imagine the dining table as a stage, and the parade of dishes as the performance. The food is the star, and as people increasingly seek to share their experiences, we’re focusing more on creating dishes that taste great and look spectacular for those shareable, viral moments.” He points to the just-launched Tao Desserts Instagram account dedicated to spotlighting confections from their worldwide cadre of pastry chefs. Tepperberg’s ventures are dazzling foodies and revelers across the globe, showing he’s not only perfected the recipe for unforgettable parties but also knows how to garnish them with a socially-savvy twist, proving that, from his party promoter roots, he’s always known the best way to serve up a good time is with a side of spectacle.

Noah Tepperberg’s Recipe for Mastering the Art of Hospitality