Nicola Siervo: The After-Dark Duke
By Bill Williams
Photographs by Lyall Aston
Nicola Siervo taking a breather at the W South Beach, June 2011
Like any creature of the night, Nicola Siervo lives for the jump, the rush-filled moment when the intersection of fate, luck, beauty, celebrity and money jolts a room awake. And tonight, at Quattro Gastronomia Italiana on Lincoln Road, the jump comes with the arrival of Laure Hériard Dubreuil of The Webster boutique and fashion designer/photographer/Webster figure Milan Vukmirovic. Siervo co-owns the restaurant and pretty much eats there every night, inevitably moving on to his club, Wall at the W South Beach hotel, after dinner. If you own a South Beach restaurant or club and aspire to the realm of chic, Hériard Dubreuil and Vukmirovic are exactly the kind of people you want on hand, and Siervo, who’s been in the business for 25 years, knows the drill.
There’s a flurry of hugs and cheek-kisses as he greets them. “My little baguette,” is what he calls Hériard Dubreuil. “I never see you now that you have a boyfriend…. you look fantastic…. why don’t you come to Wall later for a drink?” Hériard Dubreuil, naturally, is on what she calls Siervo’s “wasssup list,” alerted by Twitter when Siervo is in New York encouraging his more glamorous friends to eat and drink at the Manhattan division of Quattro. Luring the chic is part of the nightlife dance, though Hériard Dubreuil, like most people on South Beach, seems genuinely fond of Siervo: “Nicola has been such a success in the business because he has no ego, but one of the reasons I moved to Miami was Mokaï, Nicola’s old club. It had such an amazing feeling, and we were all there constantly.”
Vukmirovic is in the let-us-now-praise-nightlife moment, too: “Nicola, you’re always talking about struggling, but you have clubs everywhere. I want to be like you—all my life is work. I want to figure out how to make more money and do less work.” After a last volley of kisses and philosophical ruminations, Vukmirovic and Hériard Dubreuil join a Euro-glam table, and Siervo returns to his own dinner. He sets a pack of Marlboro Lights and two cell phones on the table. “I don’t like to be disconnected,” he says, before commenting on a life spent as a “night person.”
“Customers like to see you around at night, and I actually like to be with people, so I’m out every night anyway. Going out is a kind of addiction, but I choose to live this life, and I still have energy. I feel young when I’m in a club; I only feel old if I’m home.”
The Bang Era
South Beach is Siervo’s destiny, the ideal playground for a nice Italian boy who likes to go out. He came down from New York to put the low-budget Bang together right after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and opened in December of that year. It was the first restaurant/lounge hybrid on the Beach, lots of drunken dancing on the tables and all that, and Siervo’s nocturnal life since then has encapsulated the transformation of South Beach from a scrappy little bohemian village of degeneracy, loaded with artists, drag queens and fringe characters, to the corporate era that produces both the glamour of the W South Beach and the mall-ish Gaps, Johnny Rockets and rampant frozen-yogurt monotony on Lincoln Road.
As with South Beach itself, Siervo is in the big-time chapter of his life. In 2005 he formed KNR Restaurant Group with several partners: Rony Seikaly (former Miami Heat player and current night-world mogul and aspiring DJ), Karim Masri of the Hotel Astor, and investor Nicola Schon. They ramped up with Quattro and Mokaï, and in 2009 entered the mainstream/big-money era with the W South Beach hotel, including the Living Room Lounge and Wall. Just last month—in the biggest restaurant news South Beach has heard in a while—the group announced they’d lured acclaimed New York chef Andrew Carmellini to turn the hotel’s former Soleá space into The Dutch. Last year, they signed up the Trump Soho New York, with Quattro, Kastel, The Library and Bar d’Eau. Quattro on Lincoln Road just won a Five Star Diamond Award from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences; it’s directly across from their popular pizza place, Sosta Pizzeria. And in New York, KNR may be expanding their presence with other Quattros and such.
Location courtesy of the W South Beach