THE NEW GERBER BABY
Byline: Sari Botton
NEW YORK — Is there a formula for a successful bar? If there is, Rande Gerber seems to have found it.
Here and in Los Angeles, where new night spots crop up every season but few stay hot for long, Gerber, 33, has managed to keep crowds of celebrities, good-looking guests and locals coming to his Whiskey Bars in the Paramount Hotel here, since 1990, and at the Sunset Marquis in L.A. since 1992.
Gerber hopes to have the same drawing — and staying — power at Morgans Bar, the cozy lounge he and Ian Schrager will open tonight at the Morgans Hotel in Manhattan’s Murray Hill, on Madison Avenue near 37th Street.
It’s not a neighborhood known for night life. But Gerber isn’t worried.
“When I work with Ian Schrager, I don’t really think about the neighborhood too much,” says Gerber. Schrager owns Morgans Hotel and the Paramount Hotel. “It doesn’t matter where his hotels are. He has revolutionized the hotel business with some great concepts, and a great mix of people always come to his hotels.”
Designed by Phillipe Starck, Calvin Tsao and Anda Andre, Morgans Bar has a different feel than the sleek, contemporary Whiskey Bars. It’s a dark basement chamber with lots of scented candles providing subtle lighting, comfy vintage chairs and couches, and antique mirrors that make the 1,000-square-foot space look larger.
“I wanted to create a very relaxed atmosphere where people could come and listen to good music,” Gerber says. “The music will never be loud — I want people to be able to hear each other.”
One more thing. There’s no bar.
“This is instead of a bar,” Gerber says, pointing to the room’s centerpiece, an elevated, long, narrow, marble table lit from beneath, with wooden stools along its sides. Drinks will be served by waitresses. “We wanted people who come alone to have a bar-like place where they could come and sit on a stool and easily meet other people.”
According to Gerber, Elle Macpherson has chosen the spot for her birthday party next week, when a lot of her friends will be in town for the New York collections. A former Ford model, Gerber is a good member in standing of the fashion crowd. Once romantically linked with Cindy Crawford, he and Giorgio Armani developed the four Armani Cafes in Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Costa Mesa, Calif. The New York edition is expected to open on Madison Avenue this fall.
Gerber will be busy this fall. He’ll also be opening another Whiskey Bar at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles, and reopening Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe in the basement at the Paramount. The Diamond Horseshoe, a 12,000-square-foot cavern, was a cabaret in the Thirties and Forties that has remained vacant since.
“We’re going to have a place for live music and a screening room,” Gerber noted, declining to say more. “We’re not ready to reveal the concept yet.”
With ventures on both coasts, Gerber divides his time between his home in New York and a room at the Sunset Marquis.
“I didn’t like L.A. at first, so I didn’t want to buy a home there,” Gerber recalls, “but now I’m looking for one.”
With all the imminent openings here and there, Gerber has been ricocheting back and forth across the continent every week.
“Sometimes I feel like I have two lives,” he says. “But right now I feel like I have no life.”