DC NIGHTLIFE ICONS INTERVIEW: David Karim

By Marcus Dowling in DC Nightlife, Get in Style
Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 11:41am. (Updated: 3/04/15 at 11:42am) Add comments
Courtesy WashingtonLife.com

Robin Thicke with David Karim, courtesy WashingtonLife.com

If a serious nightlife fanatic in the Washington, DC area, over the past three decades you’ve more than likely spent a night (or ten) in at least four (or more) restaurants or nightclubs which the Capital-based nightlife impresario David Karim has managed, curated or owned. With such a long and proud history, one may find that the George Mason University graduate with an Economics degree would be content with wanting to rest on his laurels. However, that’s far from the case.

“I was out every weekend anyway,” Karim says regarding his early days in DC nightlife in the late 80s and early 90s. “I was bartending to get through college, and somebody offered me a job at club called OPERA in Adams Morgan.” The hiring proved to be the catalyst for his future aspirations, as he continues, “[working in nightlife] was the same environment that I was in every weekend –  but I was making money, which is better than spending money (laughs).”

As a fresh college graduate, the current nightlife standard bearer saw his friends making “good money for being just out of college” with their business and economics degrees, but he wanted more. “I loved music and meeting people. I got into promoting (at Zei Club in downtown DC), as I felt like I knew as many people as guys like Masoud [Aboughaddareh, current owner of Lima Nightclub] and Antonis [Karagounis, current owner of Echostage] and thought I would be successful.” Karim’s roots with Karagounis are strong. “Antonis was doing Spy Club across the street.  When it closed, he moved the party to ZEI Club. A year later, the weekly event happening at ZEI, changed with the Grand opening of GLOW with Pete Kalamoutsos as the resident DJ.  The promotion changed to cater to an EDM sound and crowd, mostly with Trance music.”

Karim’s tastes extend far past just music these days, as his pairing of quality dining options and premium nightclub experiences across the city has become a staple of his brand. Regarding his twin interests, he offers a unique and honest opinion. “[Nightlife and food] are apples and oranges. The restaurant business is so much more detail-oriented than the nightclub industry. Nightlife is more trend-based and all about having your finger on the pulse of the trends. If you make a great steak, a steakhouse can be around for 50 or 60 years. [Comparatively] music changes. In the food business, if you have the best quality and the best service, the people will come, no matter what. [Insofar] as nightlife, it’s all about what’s “in,” and that’s what people go after.”

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Lost Society sits at the corner of 14th and U Streets, NW

Staying competitive in a revitalizing Washington, DC is clearly of importance to Karim, too. In regards to how he has remained vital, he offers this summation: “DC’s a little concerning. I’m 44 years old now and have been doing this for 26 years. The population is booming. You have areas like 14th Street and U Street. I have two locations there [14th Street’s Policy and U Street’s Lost Society] that are thriving, but downtown is not about bottle service anymore – it’s all about business lunches and happy hours.” With respect to serving this new demographic, he has a plan. “The late night is disappearing. People want to go to bars. The economy has boomed here, though, with defense contractors and IT companies locating here, and they want that hybrid experience of a restaurant and bar with a late-night aspect to it.”

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The interior of The Gryphon.

David Karim’s plan has seen him open a series of nightclub/restaurants which he sees providing a sustainable solution for the evolving state of the DC party scene. “Lost Society and Gryphon [blend] a cool steakhouse with a DJ. I believe that’s a concept that was needed in DC. I love food – especially steaks – and enjoy having a party scene in the same venue, too. We do the same concept with a different menu at a second location with Gryphon. I want to grow the brand, do something on H Street in DC, or maybe something in Arlington. I thought of it, I executed it, and it’s doing well.”

With a seemingly ever-growing plethora of nightlife locales under his control and vision, David Karim blends a sharp awareness of history with an eye on his customer’s happiness and a curiosity about the future to create a blueprint for success. Regarding said success, Karim – as always it seems – keeps his ultimate motivations simple, possibly only to hide the complexities in execution. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do what we do in the nightlife business. There’s a balance between business savvy and partying. However (clearly in more ways than one), I’m always hungry.”

DC NIGHTLIFE ICONS INTERVIEW: Hooman Pedram

By Marcus Dowling in DC Nightlife, Get in Style
Monday, February 16, 2015, 1:00pm. (Updated: 3/04/15 at 11:42am) Add comments
Courtesy Hooman Pedram

Photo courtesy of Hooman Pedram

“I haven’t thought about this in forever!” exclaims Hooman Pedram, award winning club owner, entrepreneur and current owner of TripAdvisor’s top-five rated Tap and Still Restaurant of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. What he had not thought about in forever? The five years that he was a key member of the ownership group behind influential Northwest DC nightclub Club Five (now where Public Bar is located near Dupont Circle), and his role in the development of the current boom era for nightlife in the Nation’s Capital.

Fifteen years ago, North America’s love of dance music – similar to right now – experienced some of it’s most significant commercial growth in Washington, DC. When Pedram was based out of Washington, DC and the General Manager of now closed Northwest DC nightspot Club Five from 2003-2008, it was quite the amazing era.

“I started off going to clubs, then I got into passing out flyers, promoting, management, it was a chain of events and it really took off from there. Originally, I was just into the music. I’d go to Fifth Column [located at F Street NW, closed in 1996] on Monday nights, and it was a little more commercial. Then, I’d go to Tracks [then located on First Street SE] on Thursday night, which had a goth side of the room and an industrial side. At that time, rave DJs like Scott Henry and Charles Feelgood would play at Tracks. Those were my two places that I used to go to. Then I started going to Zei Club [near downtown’s McPherson Square], too.”

“Just before [me and my partners] got involved with Five, we were throwing parties where the [Washington Nationals] stadium is now, at a club called Edge (located in Southeast DC, closed in 2006).” Regarding his promotional strategy, he also offers advice for new promoters, too. “ I knew people in DC. It was an easy place for me to do something. I had roots there. People knew me, I had friends and connections, too. It’s all about building a database. It’s all about numbers and knowing a lot of people.”

Photo via yelp.com

Photo via yelp.com

“The club [we initially were using for parties] was near Capital Ballroom and Tracks, too. We got into a partnership with the owner at Five, as he didn’t want to run it anymore, so we came in as promoters, and then had the chance to buy into the club down the line. [Club Five] had a comfortable feel, it was non-pretentious and mostly about the music.”

In regards to the bridge between, say, Club Five to Fur Nightclub and Antonis Karagounis’ Echostage, Pedram tells a most entertaining tale about his involvement. “The DJs we were getting, nobody else was really getting at that time. We were more house, and the Buzz vibe was more techno. It’s intriguing, trace didn’t really come around until Antonis [Karagounis] and them started Panorama Productions. Actually, here’s a great story. Back then, I worked at a travel agency with my friend Jason Martin, and we used to fly DJs around the country. Right before I bought into Club Five, I was working with starting Red Bull. I lived in Colorado for a winter, and I took this energy drink that I saw out there, and I had it shipped across the country to my house. I used to go to Zei Club when Antonis and his crew had their Panorama parties there. I was the guy who was selling the Red Bull there. [Of course], in the daytime, I was still a travel agent for DJs for tours.”

He continues, “at that time [Buzz resident DJ] Scott Henry had the lockdown for DJs. You couldn’t get a DJ into DC that was worth a lick if you weren’t Scott Henry. Antonis [and Panorama] were doing great parties, but they had no big-name DJs. They did have a big crowd, though, and they wanted to take it to the next level. [Ultimately], I helped them book Christopher Lawrence, who was the first “big name” DJ that they booked. Once they booked him, they hit the ground running, and you see what it is now, right? (laughs)”

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Tap and Still Restaurant, photo courtesy of Hooman Pedram

 

After leaving Club Five in 2008, Pedram relocated to the US Virgin Islands, where after a stutter-step, has truly found success and happiness with the Tap and Still Restaurant. Reflecting, he says “I opened a nightclub down here and it did good for two years, but this wasn’t the right market for it. I sold the club, regrouped and now I have a restaurant open in the marina.” Insofar as his restaurant’s success, he’s extremely positive. “It’s a great life down here. As a restaurateur with promotional experience in nightclubs and events, I’m more than able to compete. I can run the restaurant, have the party, and run a series of events, too. I’ve certainly used my Washington, DC pedigree to my advantage down here. We still do DJs [at the Tap and Still]. I’ve taken it back like 100 steps, though. There’s no DJ booth. We set it up every week. We pull up a table, have some speakers set up in the corner and we’re ready to party. It’s packed every weekend!”

For as influential as Hooman Pedram was to the current massive success of DC as a nightlife destination city, his thoughts about where DC is headed in the future certainly can’t be surprising at all: “I’m still close to the East coast! Keep an eye out for me [in DC] in 2016!”

 

Follow Hooman to get all the latest updates on his nightlife ventures: facebook.com/kingofclub

Alesso: 4.3.15 at Echostage

By amelia in Club Glow, DC Concerts, DC Events, DC Nightlife, DJ Events, Echostage, Electronic Dance Music
Monday, February 16, 2015, 12:00pm. (Updated: 2/23/15 at 4:10pm) Add comments

Glow Washington DC presents:

Alesso

April 3, 2015

 
 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE • Washington, DC

 

Tickets on sale now!
Doors  9PM | No dress code | Ages 18+
Bottle Service: Tables@echostage.com | 202.503.2331

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The young Swede responsible for Years, If I Lose Myself, City of Dreams and Calling (Lose My Mind) returns to Echostage this spring! Rated by DJ Mag as the part of the elite top 20 DJs in the world in 2014, he makes a stop in Washington, DC for another round of of massive synths and churning bass lines.

Tickets on sale now!  |  Get more info at ClubGlow.com

El Centro D. F.

By amelia in dc bars, DC Lounges, DC Nightclubs and Nightlife Guide, DC Nightlife
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 5:39pm. (Updated: 1/28/15 at 1:45pm) Add comments
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El Centro DF, Washington DC

  • Venue Type: Restaurant/Lounge/Tequila Bar
  • Amenities: Full Lunch/Dinner menu, tequila bar, happy hour, rooftop bar, Saturday and Sunday brunch
  • Hours
    • Lunch: Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
    • Dinner: Monday – Friday: 4:00pm – 11:00pm
      Saturday & Sunday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
    • Late Night: Thursday: 11:00pm – 2:00 am
      Friday – Saturday: 11:00pm – 3:00am
    • Rooftop: Monday – Friday: 5:00pm – 9:00pm
      Saturday & Sunday: 4:00pm – 9:00pm
    • Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am – 3:00pm
    • Happy Hour: 4-7pm Daily (only available at the bar)
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Location: U Street
  • Address: 1819 14th Street Northwest
  • Contact: 202.328.3131
  • Website: www.richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf/

 

Overview

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Enjoy quality Mexican cuisine? Love a lively atmosphere? Do you like tequila? Featured recently in The Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, on ABC 7, and Food Network, this Zagat top-rated bar is a must see. With over 200 different tequilas and mezcals at the ready, El Centro is sure to be the new home of your favorite hang out.

“Chef Richard Sandoval invites you to gather, dine and raise a glass at El Centro, D.F. Authentic Mexican comfort food and fine Tequilas are served in three vibrant spaces.” (from richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf) And let me tell you: Rich knows what he’s doing. Big portions of delicious and perfectly prepared food, paired expertly with a variety of mixed drinks and cocktails.

Photos

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All images courtesy of richardsandoval.com/elcentrodf.

The Gryphon

By amelia in dc bars, DC Lounges, DC Nightclubs and Nightlife Guide, DC Nightlife, DC Restaurants, Happy Hours
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 4:42pm. (Updated: 1/28/15 at 1:37pm) Add comments
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The Gryphon, Washington DC

  • Venue Type: Restaurant/Lounge, more specifically: a Meat & Raw Bar Social House
  • Amenities: Full menu, full bar, private events, Sunday brunch
  • Hours
    • Tuesday -Friday : 4:00PM to 1:30am
    • Saturday-Sunday: 11:30AM to 1:30am
  • Dress Code: Dressy Casual
  • Location: Dupont Circle
  • Address: 1337 Connecticut Avenue Northwest
  • Contact: 202.827.8980
  • Website: www.thegryphondc.com

 

 

Overview

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The Gryphon, Washington DC

Created by the founders of Lost Society, a swanky steakhouse on 14th and U, The Gryphon promises a new take on socializing and eating. “Just as Lost Society changed the traditional perception of a steakhouse, the Gryphon is designed to change the perception of dining with friends, family and neighbors. ” (from thegryphondc.com)

A self-proclaimed “Social House”, it offers a menu specializing in finely cooked meats and one of DC’s best raw bars. And, as far as nightlife goes, they also offer a wide variety of specialy cocktails and wines in addition to a full bar.

If you want a night to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few high quality drinks with the company of good friends in a comfortable yet modernly stylish atmosphere, The Gryphon is definitely the place for you.

 Photos

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Images courtesy of thegryphondc.com and yelp.com.

Manor

By amelia in dc bars, DC Lounges, DC Nightclubs and Nightlife Guide, DC Nightlife, DC Restaurants
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 2:36pm. (Updated: 1/28/15 at 1:36pm) Add comments
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Manor has everything you could ask for in a lounge: Delicious menu, great drinks, cool atmosphere, and a great location (not to mention the awesome view of Connecticut Ave out the 2nd story floor-to-ceiling windows).

Halloween Fright Fest Weekend

By amelia in Dc Nightclubs, DC Nightlife
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 12:00pm. (Updated: 10/27/14 at 11:10am) Add comments
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We take Halloween very seriously here at DCClubbing, and with only 1 week left until the scariest time of year we think it’s time for you to get on our level.

Hardwell at Echostage: 12.27-28.14

By amelia in Club Glow, DC Concerts, DC Events, DC Nightlife, Echostage, Electronic Dance Music, Music
Saturday, August 30, 2014, 12:01pm. (Updated: 12/01/14 at 11:26am) Add comments
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DJ Mag has listed him as the world’s reigning champ, holding down the #1 spot for 2 years running. Now Hardwell makes his return to Washington, DC’s own Echostage for 2 nights in December!

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October 24 & 25, 2014 Skrillex invades Echostage to drop the bass two nights in a row. Famous for insane production and massive songs such as Bangarang, Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites and many more, Skrillex is set to take Washington, DC by storm.

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Looking for a venue to take your friend? Maybe they aren’t an EDM fanatic but still want to go somewhere interesting and cool? Look no further, we’ve put together some great places for every kind of person in your life.

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