When it comes to Miami’s nightlife business, longevity is rare to any and all. Few establishments have stood the test of time—not to mention the ever-changing trends and needs of the public—but sadly, most disappear without a trace. Whether it’s a club, bar or restaurant, not enough can be said about that “it” factor that not only keeps an establishment open, but on top of the game. A group of individuals have mastered this trade, creating one of the most illustrious nightlife empires across the nation: The Opium Group.
Joining forces in early 2001, brothers Eric and Francis Milon, along with Roman Jones, laid the foundation for premium nightlife in Miami, starting with a restaurant, then working their way into nightclubs.
After landing in Miami via Paris in the early ‘90s, Eric Milon, a promising top model at the time, saw that the city needed a trendy restaurant to cater to visiting celebrities and fashionistas. He then opened The Strand, an eatery that brought the much-needed hype back to Miami Beach with its undeniably elite following. Eric’s younger brother Francis Milon, a nightlife staple in Paris and New York, decided to follow suit a few years later, moving to Miami to open their first joint venture, the Living Room.
Next came Roman Jones, son of rocker Mick Jones and a savvy entrepreneur, and the Opium Group was born. The following project had the trio take over a 30,000sf space on South Beach. Today, that space houses Opium Garden, an open-air Asian-inspired nightclub only steps from Ocean Drive’s hustle and bustle. The next venture, Privé, carved out a nook within Opium Garden, creating what still stands today as one of the prime celebrity hot spots in the city—with a separate entrance, of course.
“The managing partners—Eric Milon, Francis Milon and Roman Jones—are extremely hands on in the operations of each venue, and are perfectionists in the areas of design, sound and décor,” says Carlos Correal, director of marketing for the Opium Group. “It’s safe to say that each venue has their fingerprint on it, and is the best in its category—whether it’s an upscale lounge á la Privé, or a grand, decadent super-club like Mansion.”
The Opium Group’s next project turned out to be their most popular. After taking over a 40,000sf space on Washington Avenue, a street now known for non-stop nightlife access, their “residence-meets-nightlife” mantra was taken to a whole new level. First opened as the French Casino in 1936, Mansion is now one of the liveliest, most vibrant venues in South Beach, and is said to have ushered in the nighttime allure of the street. Attracting big name DJs such as Tiësto, Roger Sanchez and DJ AM as well as live performances by Ashlee Simpson, Robin Thicke and Rick Ross, Mansion quickly became a must-see stomping ground for celebrities and groundbreaking talent.
“Miami Beach is not known as a live music city,” he says. “We’re very in tune to the likes and requests of our guests, and we realized that when we bring live acts to the venues, our guests really respond.”
Joining the company in July of 2007, Correal is responsible for bringing in a most of the live acts to the Opium Group venues.
“Our primary goal is to blow our guests away with our music, events and energy—period,” says Correal. “Every one our venues has its own mystique and each has its regulars and fans. Though I would say Mansion has certainly made a splash on the national periphery because of its celebrity appeal, grand stature and innovative music programming.”
After each of their successful runs with Opium Garden, Privé and Mansion, the Opium Group struck gold again with the 2007 opening of SET, their most extravagant and haute venue yet. Inspired by the Hollywood homes of the ‘30s and ‘40s, partygoers can mingle among Pucci fabrics, a futuristic fireplace and a luxurious mix of crystal.
The aesthetics that The Opium Group includes in each of their venues is one of chic comfort, style and beauty. Their efforts have made a long lasting impression on Miami’s nightlife scene, defining what it means to be VIP on South Beach. The group is now beginning to shift their focus and efforts to other markets such as Las Vegas, with their recent openings of Privé and the Living Room, and the opening of Mansion in Manhattan’s West Chelsea club district.
“The Opium Group is always reviewing expansion opportunities, and with our recent openings of Privé Las Vegas and Mansion New York, we certainly are enjoying quite a bit of national attention,” says Correal. “Our next project is the opening of a chic, smaller lounge at the new Gansevoort South in Miami Beach. We will continue to innovate in our marketing and creative collaborations, creating an Opium Group lifestyle.”
For more info on The Opium Group, go to http://www.theopiumgroup.com/
Opium Garden and Privé, 136 Collins Ave
Mansion, 1235 Washington Ave
Set, 320 Lincoln Road