Insider Series – Memphis Garrett
NIGHTLIFE & STYLE
By Daniel Farr
Back in November, we clued you in on Los Angeles’ hottest new nightclub, Greystone Manor. The SBE venue has since secured its spot as the top nightlife destination in the city. The crowd, the music, the celebrities, and the design have illustrated to our city what other clubs should aspire to be like.
One of the key ingredients to any successful establishment is the general manager. And Greystone Manor is no exception. A self professed nightlife professional, reality TV personality, and whiskey drinking jewelry designer, Memphis Garrett has helped elevate both the venue and the SBE hospitality group to a higher level.
In between his non-stop schedule, I sat down with Garrett for the inside scoop on what it’s like to GM the city’s hottest venue, to run a jewelry company, and live in the great city of Los Angeles:
1.) Where are you from and what kind of things were you into as a kid? I was born in Paducah, Kentucky. Basketball was like a religion where I grew up, so I did that mostly; but I managed to make time for getting into trouble.
2.) After going to Florida State University, you ended up on the CBS reality show Big Brother and almost won the whole thing. How did you hear about the show and what made you decide to do it? I didn’t really know much about Big Brother until I was approached to be on it. How could I turn the opportunity down? I mean, when do you ever have a 1 in 12 chance to win a half a million dollars? Never.
3.) How’d you first get into nightlife? I have had a long list of jobs—from cleaning toilets to hauling mulch I also was an EMT. I’ll never forget showing up at a house in Orange Mound to find a guy shot by a 35 in the face. I was 19, but I can still remember my first job at a nightclub like it was yesterday. It was at a place called the MOON in Tallahassee, Florida back in ’05. It was actually pretty scary now that I look back. I made myself gain 15 pounds of muscle that summer.
Ever since then I have been hooked on the nonstop excitement of nightlife. You know the night was a success when the final costumer leaves, the venue has done amazing and somehow the club is still intact. Controlled chaos is what I call it.
4.) You currently manage one of the top nightclubs in LA and probably the country, Greystone Manor. What is an average day like for you? My typical day is pretty packed. It starts around 11 a.m., once I roll over to grab my ever-vibrating Blackberry to read emails from one of your readers looking for their credit card or trying to get their car out of valet. I sift through about 35 to 40 emails over some French-pressed Costa Rican coffee.
Once I take care of all the important messages, I head to a quick brunch with my fiancée and then straight to the club to walk the venue and check out any damage that the previous night of madness might have brought. From the club, I go to sbe’s corporate office to check in on everything from HR and payroll to talking with the executives, design, marketing and events teams, and VIP host. Once everything is organized and set in motion for the night, I head to Equinox for a workout. From there I go back home and then to Greystone Manor by 6 p.m., ready for the night.
During the hours of operation you can find me running around the venue dealing with numerous things mainly focusing on the energy, music, lighting, flow, service and making sure everyone is having a great time. Exciting, I know.
5.) What are some of the more memorable events you’ve thrown there and what celebrities were involved? After running XIV Summer Sessions it takes one hell of a party to wow me, but Greystone has definitely had some crazy nights. Who could ever forget the 100 bottles of Dom Rose sprayed within 30 minutes? Or Tony Daly’s birthday party where I’m pretty sure someone died I just can’t remember who.
Celebrities? You can read the tabloids. My lips are sealed.
6.) In what direction do you see the future of nightlife going in Hollywood? I think people will continue to strive to create the perfect nightclub experience. In my mind that’s creating the best party that you have ever been to. There are a number of things that make a nightclub successful and a lot of moving parts to a perfect night—but if you lose control at any point you’re done. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s controlled chaos. I think the LA market will move to more Vegas style venues. Every day I think of ways to push the envelope and think of ideas to create the best environment to party in.
7.) You recently launched a custom unisex jewelry line, Whiskey Breath. What inspired you to do that and how do you find the time to do so much? Whiskey Breath was an idea I had had for many years that evolved from my desire to bring my passion and heritage from the South to the center of Hollywood. I work on Whiskey Breath in stages: Once a month I take a week where every free moment I have it’s all about Whiskey Breath. Basically, lots of jewelry is created and lots of whiskey is consumed.
8.) Where can people find your products? You can purchase Whiskey Breath inside the SLS Beverly Hills or through our store online: www.whiskeybreathdesign.com
9.) What do you do to relax when you have time off? I snowboard a lot or head to the beach for seafood. Sometimes I just cruise in my Bronco. But relaxing is tough for me.
10.) What is your favorite thing about Los Angeles? If we had one day in LA, where should we eat and what should we do? I think the weather and the ability to be at the beach in the morning and in the mountains later that same day is amazing. If you had one day to spend in LA, you should wake up then cruise PCH with the top down. Stop at Gladstones for some brunch. After that, hit Wolfslair in Hollywood for the best German beer ever. Then take off for a session of night snowboarding on Mt High. It’s the perfect day.
Follow Memphis Garrett on Twitter: www.twitter.com/memphisgarrett