By Jason Fitzroy Jeffers| October 3, 2012 |
Birnbaum and Remm at Catch in New York’s Meatpacking District
It’s not enough to say that Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum are responsible for some of the most sought-out dining and nightlife spots in New York City; they oversee nothing less than an empire, known to those in the know as the EMM Group, a consortium of 18 separate, in-demand venues such as Abe & Arthur’s, SL, and Catch, the swank-yet-fun, multifloored seafood restaurant and hangout that opened to rave reviews last fall in the Meatpacking District. Since founding the company in 2006, the duo—along with partner Michael Hirtenstein—have taken over Manhattan by blurring the line between dining and nightlife.
But an empire must expand. As such, the team are opening an outpost of Catch at The James Royal Palm hotel on Miami Beach this fall. The location will also house a Miami edition of SL, their hit nightclub in New York. It’s a big leap, but it doesn’t hurt that Remm and Birnbaum already feel like locals. “We grew up on Nobu and Bond Street, and we were there for the openings of the Shore Club and the Fontainebleau, and the reopenings of The Raleigh and the Shelborne,” says Remm. “We’re here a lot.”
Before they knew each other, Remm and Birnbaum lived essentially parallel lives, sharing the same birthday, having friends in common, and earning their nightlife chops during their college days, promoting parties and running nightclubs. Finally they were introduced, and in 2006, launched the opulent nightclub Tenjune (named after their shared birth date). With its breakout success, EMM Group was born, each year seeing new ventures, from annual celeb-littered bashes in the Hamptons to multiple highly acclaimed venues.
“We’re like yin and yang, and we meet in the middle,” says Birnbaum. They both keep track of construction, growing the business and reviewing financials, as well as the day-to-day punch list—everything from DJ bookings to nightly operations. “We share the same office, so we often end up yelling across the room and figuring it all out.”
Another key to EMM’s runaway success has been Remm and Birnbaum’s ability to pull under one roof everything needed for an unforgettable night. “If you’re purely a restaurateur, you’re not necessarily good at opening nightclubs. Often the same is true of nightclub owners trying to open restaurants,” says Birnbaum. “We seem to have been able to bridge the gap. We approached the restaurant business the way we enjoy it. So we observed the restaurants we like and took notes. People see our places as one-stop shops—you can have dinner early or late, and if you want to do something later, we have somewhere to go without you needing to get into a cab.”
Considering EMM’s track record, Catch Miami will likely be a bright spot on the social scene this fall, and may be a beachhead from which to launch other projects. “It’s nice to be the new game in town,” admits Birnbaum. “We’ll see how this goes. We’re not in a rush, but we’re definitely keeping our eyes open.”