I was late. And I’m never late. Seriously, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been late. The only thing soothing my mind of my horribly unprofessional lateness, is the person I’m meeting. Julie Eichner, a powerhouse in New York City nightlife. I’m hoping she is like every other New Yorker I’ve met, moving at their own pace. As I “mom-walk” down Lafayette Street, I think about what her night before looked like. Julie works with Tao Group, an elite nightlife group based in New York City. They own a number of restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Recently, they acquired Hakkasan Group, taking their business global and making them one of the largest nightlife groups in the world. Julie specifically works at a restaurant location and club location where she works the door. Working the door is one of the most difficult jobs in the industry. Clients have all sorts of demands, requests, and complaints that she filters through.
As I finally push through the door of Honeybrains, I glance around hoping my coffee companion hasn’t made it yet. I order a cappuccino and get my notes ready. A minute later, Julie comes in . I’ve met her before, so I can easily spot her. She’s hard to miss and the picture of luxury New York clubbing. A slicked back bun and all leather outfit. As we say our hellos, she sits across from me and sets her phone on the table. Though her hours are technically 4 PM — 2 AM, her phone is pinging with client requests.
Molly McLindon: Hi, it’s good to see you again.
Julie Eichner: Yeah, you too. Sorry I’m late, the trains were a disaster today.
MM: I literally got here one minute before you, don’t worry at all. I have a few questions for you, do you mind if I hop in?
JE: For sure.
MM: How did you get into nightlife?
JE: I honestly fell into it. During the pandemic, I just started applying. I accepted a position with Tao Group without really realizing what it was. I soon realized and immediately fell in love with it. When they started asking me to work at the club, I was hype. I love this industry.
MM: Do you feel like nightlife in New York City differs? Or is it held at a different standard?
JE: I’d like to think so. I’ve been out in a few major cities, and I find that nightlife is much more exclusive here. I think being a club-goer is much harder in New York. There are a lot of…stipulations? I guess you could say. I think it may be similar in Los Angeles, but a place like Chicago strikes me as having a relaxed vibe.
MM: What stands out to you as being exclusive? Or behaviors that contribute to New York City nightlife?
JE: It feels snobby to say exclusive. I think it’s not truly exclusive if you know what’s up. Most of it is like common sense. Being respectful is obviously crucial. But being respectful anywhere you go is normal.
MM: Definitely. Just a few more questions. What do you think makes New York nightlife unique?
JE: That’s tough. It varies by neighborhood and trends, I would say. Like a midtown club is going to be way flashy and showy, ’cause that’s where the tourists are. Downtown is going to be more lowkey but also highkey? Like everyone is dressed to the 9’s but in an effortless way. Very off-duty model. I think that makes it unique. The effortless class of it all.
MM: Effortless class. That’s awesome, I love that. Is there anything that’s difficult about being in front of house?
JE: I mean there is difficulty in every job, right? Obviously, like sometimes a night doesn’t go your way but the benefits far outweigh the difficult things. Like I have met the most amazing being and I can also say I genuinely love what I do. Obviously, I can get discouraged but every night, I swear something happens that makes me love my job.
MM: Loving your job is so rare, you’re one of the lucky ones. This is my final question, do you feel like age is anything to worry about in the industry?
JE: I think about that a lot. Luckily, my role models are older people in the industry so I can see what my future holds if I continue to work hard. Hopefully, I can move up within management. It seems like a young person’s game but behind the scenes it’s serious professionals.
Julie’s phone rings. The restaurant needs her early and our mutual lateness didn’t help.
JE: Sorry, I have to take off. But thanks for chatting with me! This was fun, I feel so grown up!
MM: Yes, of course! Thank you so so much. This was amazing!
JE: Anytime! Text me.
She heads out, downing her latte and tossing it in the garbage can near the exit. I gather my stuff and head to the nearest 6 train. As I ride uptown, I begin to reflect on how vast her experience is in such a short time. Her passion is overflowing and infectious. It proved to me that exclusivity is nothing but a mirage. These industry workers love what they do and desire to pass it on.