Mike, the Man Behind the City’s Shortest-Lived Hot Spot, Steps Out of His Apartment

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The man behind the short-lived hot spot known only as “Mike’s apartment” still isn’t giving up his last name, but he’s talking to press, and he tells us that his now-infamous Noho pad will no longer be hosting parties as big as the ones Axl Rose and Will.I.Am attended. He is, however, trying to open a bi-level restaurant and rock club. By now you probably know the backstory: On February 23, Gawker outed the “newest hot spot in New York ,” a “reasonable-sized studio/loft downtown somewhere” that belonged to a guy named Mike. “While developing a new nightclub project over the last few months,” the story went, “he accumulated some fairly unorthodox nightlife friends — who eventually started hosting impromptu parties at his place.” It quickly became “the newest hangout for celebrities.”

So who exactly is Mike, and how did he get these unorthodox friends? The story is straight out of How to Make It in America. Mike is a friendly, average Joe from Jersey who does indeed like pickling as well as nineties rock music. After he graduated from NYU in 2000, he and his brother bought and oversaw a 450-seat, 120-employee landmark restaurant in Medford, New Jersey, with the help of their co-signing dad. (Mike currently works primarily for his father’s “family office,” which he describes as “a dynamic entrepreneurial environment” that brokers “commodity trades, commodity currency, and securities.”) The restaurant closed in 2008 (Mike also partnered in an upscale French restaurant).

About four years ago, the owner of a Noho eatery that Mike declines to name brought him on as a consultant, and Mike says that over the course of eight months of balancing the books, he turned the restaurant around and came to win the owner’s trust. So much so that, according to Mike, the two are now talking about partnering in the space and relaunching it as what Mike describes as “a restaurant with good, accessible food in an acceptable environment with a nightlife component that has a focus on rock and roll.” (There will be a small stage in the basement.)

Though Mike won’t name the space in question, a source close to the deal confirms previous rumors that it is Acme, and tells us that Mike has indeed talked to Paul Sevigny about being involved in the project (nothing has been decided and Sevigny now has his hands full with Kenmare). That source also tells us Mike is talking to a group of nightlife and real-estate vets, including longtime nightlife fixture Vegas. He’s the one who is said to have brought Axl Rose and others to Mike’s apartment.

In reality, Mike says he only threw about four or five parties (over the course of about two weeks) before Gawker declared his apartment a celebrity “hangout.” Far from operating an underground club, Mike was simply hosting get-togethers during the period of less than a month during which a larger apartment across from his had become vacant. “When we got keys to the space,” says Mike, “we knew we could do whatever we wanted over there. We’d had so many conversations with so many different people in nightlife about work-related things that we made phone calls to our friends and people that we work with and said, ‘We have this space we can hang out in, so come by.’” With Vegas showing Axl around town during Fashion Week, the rocker’s appearance was a gimme.

With a new tenant taking over the vacant space in March, its days as a party pad were clearly numbered, but a Gawker writer who knew Mike and attended an early party decided to have some fun with it, and Mike played along. “The only way I agreed to do it,” says Mike of the Gawker post, “is if it was done completely anonymous and if it was totally silly, that’s why they mentioned my pickles and goofy shit in my life.” What Mike didn’t expect was for a commenter to discover a GPS watermark in Gawker’s photo of his pickle cabinet — which led to the Village Voice blogging the location of the apartment.

After that post, says Mike, “there were people asking if they can get in; people asking people that know me if they could be brought; people buzzing my buzzer; people poking around about me in the restaurant downstairs.” So does Mike plan to host more blowouts there? “No,” he says emphatically, but he’s still trying to put a deal together. “We got pretty close to a finalization and the landlord has gotten sidetracked on family [issues] and other business projects,” says Mike. “We’re just getting back into the closing phase.”

Assuming Mike can get his project off the ground, the question is: Will the neighbors who blocked AvroKo from coming to Bond Street now embrace a man who unwittingly made a name for himself as an after-hours king? “There are certain connotations that come along with the term ‘nightlife,’ and I don’t think we’re trying to do something that’s offensive, loud, or disruptive — we’re trying to do something that fits in with the neighborhood.” And if Axl Rose shows up, who’s going to turn him away?