“Before, you’d really only go to a hotel’s bar if you had to,” Scott Gerber, the CEO and Principal of Gerber Group recalls of the time before his company opened its first property inside The Paramount Hotel in NYC. “When we did The Whiskey it became a place people really wanted to go to. People wanted to come to a different environment, which is really just this small, cool bar where people can let their hair down,” Gerber says. “At the time there were no boutique hotels and no cool restaurants or bars in those hotels; then we got into this niche where we liked being in a hotel.”
Starting in 1991, Gerber Group not only focused on properties within hotels, but also on securing nightlife business opportunities that traditional bars would consider a lost cause—think Monday through Wednesday. But its properties drew an elevated crowd of curious locals and tourists alike. “What we started finding was that these hotels liked the idea of having interesting food and beverage as opposed to just a food and beverage outlet,” says Gerber. The company expanded, eventually opening 10 properties spanning from New York to Chicago, and making high-profile deals like its lucrative partnership with Starwood Hotels to develop the W Hotel brand.
Despite its far-reaching success, New York is still the first—as it so often is—to embrace Gerber Group’s evolving vision of premier nightlife. The group’s most recent opening, The Campbell, is as special in its design as it is a testament to Gerber Group’s mission, which includes opening properties in unassuming places. The Campbell Apartment had been a bar inside Grand Central for 15 years and was previously owned by the MTA. When a government agency owns a property, Gerber explains, they have to submit public requests for proposals—and eventually, they reached out to the Gerber Group. “We had been to the bar previously, and it’s an amazing room—it’s iconic,” Gerber says. “So then our vision became that you can’t rest on your laurels. We wanted to reinvigorate this historic space, and show off its original features in a refreshed way.” Today upon entering the revamped space, the painted ceilings and bespoke cocktails are two of the many luxuries one can still enjoy at The Campbell in 2017—only now it has the added Gerber Group touch of cool.
Speaking to the more casual clientele Gerber envisioned for the space, he says it’s all a reflection of the times. “People don’t live in a suit and tie anymore,” he says. Against a backdrop of decadence and old New York at The Campbell (designed by Randy Kemper and Anthony Ingrao nonetheless), a contemporary crowd is more than welcome to kick up its heels amidst an ever-changing social scene in the city. And the same goes for Mr. Purple, located inside the Lower East Side’s Hotel Indigo. Make one trip to Gerber Group’s downtown haunt and you’re just as likely to run into friends from Wall Street as you are to see your friends in fashion—and the undisturbed rooftop views of the Empire State building don’t hurt.
“Our philosophy has always been to create a place where you want to go with your friends and have a good time,” he says. “That means a place where you can talk to your friends, where there’s good service, and where there’s hard-earned value where you’re spending your money. And finally, there should be an eclectic crowd. I don’t think anyone wants to go somewhere where everyone looks the same, or dresses the same.”