When she arrived roughly 10 minutes late and slightly flustered, Amy Sacco said she wasn’t exactly sure what she was doing speaking to a group of approximately 45 Yale students at a Branford Master’s Tea Thursday afternoon.
“When I was invited to talk at Yale, my first though was why?” Sacco said. “Does it have something to do with Ashton Kutcher? Am I going to get ‘punk’d?'”
After citing the reason for her lateness as having been at one of her New York City nightclubs until 4 a.m., the 30-something nightclub entrepreneur discussed her experiences in the nightclub industry, her advice for those who are interested in getting into the business and general advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Sacco’s most recent project was opening her second nightclub, Bungalow 8, located in the Chelsea section of New York City. Sacco said the “smaller, quieter, more exclusive” club is often frequented by such celebrities as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Naomi Watts and the Hilton sisters. Entrance can be obtained only with a VIP card or celebrity status, although Sacco said people may be able to get into the club by displaying the right personality.
“Don’t act like you’re important, because I’ll know that you’re compensating for not being important and you won’t get in,” said Sacco. “Don’t try to [bribe me], or I’ll really know that you think that you’re not important enough to get in. Smile, be polite, be willing to wait. Walk up with confidence.”
Sacco discussed her early experiences working in the restaurant business, a period during which she said she learned as much as she possibly could.
“I worked Sundays, I volunteered for things,” Sacco said. “Anything that I could put my hands on.”
After Sacco had worked in several restaurants and nightclubs, Yvonne Force, one of Sacco’s best friends, introduced her to several billionaires and multimillionaires, in the hope of gaining some investors for a potential nightclub project. Roughly one month later, Sacco was called back about the project, for which she said $1.2 million was ultimately invested.
The result of the investment was the 1998 opening of Sacco’s first nightclub, Lot 61. The club, also located in Chelsea, was an overnight success.
“My goal was to have a place where you didn’t sit down on a sticky couch where the floor smelled like beer and cigarettes,” Sacco said. “I wanted a sophisticated place where you could eat and enjoy yourself.”
Sacco offered advice for people who are interested in getting into the nightclub business. She also gave more general advice.
“She said things pertaining to not just nightclubs, but also larger issues, like how to interact with people,” Morgan Richards ’05 said.
Sacco spoke of the importance of interpreting clients’ body language and gauging their needs without being imposing.
“Try to figure out what they want,” Sacco said. “‘Are you looking for the coat check?’ Try to interpret their motions and body language. However, don’t be on top of them.”
The Tea was attended by students interested in the nightclub business, but also by students who came to hear an interesting speaker.
“I’m really interested in going into promotion, possibly for nightclubs,” Jackie Shaprow ’06 said. “I thought the talk was incredible. I loved getting the opportunity to hear from her.”
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