One on One with Pink Elephant's Shawn Kolodny

One on One with Pink Elephant's Shawn Kolodny

by Sharon Feiereisen
08.01.2008

Click here for more information on Pink Elephant New York.
Click here for more information on
Pink Elephant Southampton.

If you fancy yourself a cog in New York’s glittering nightlife machine, chances are Shawn Kolodny is logged in your Blackberry. There’s no doubt that the brains behind one of the hottest clubs in the Hamptons and West Chelsea’s indomitable Pink Elephant has become a power player to be reckoned with. Over the last 15 years, Kolodny has launched and managed some of New York’s most popular clubs and shows no signs of slowing with venue openings slated for Chicago, Los Angeles, and Brazil. Clubplanet caught-up with the grand poobah to get his take on Pink Elephant’s success, Hamptons nightlife, and more.

Clubplanet: Did you always know you wanted to be a player in the nightlife arena?

Shawn Kolodny: Nope, I just fell into it.  I always wanted to own my own business, and seemed to really like the bars and clubs—the rest is history.

CP: Manhattan’s movers and shakers are notoriously fickle. Was Pink Elephant’s move from 14th street to a bigger space in West Chelsea only space related or was it a tactic to give your patrons something new?

Shawn Kolodny: It was both, our lease was coming up, so we used that as an opportunity to find a new and better home for the Pink Elephant.  We wanted a place where we could give our patrons something more. The 27th street locations allowed us to provide our customers with more space, a better layout, and an overall better product, letting us really create the space we always wanted.

Pink Elephant Southampton
Pink Elephant Southampton

CP: It’s undeniable that 27th street isn’t what it was 7 years ago, even what it was 4 or 2 years ago. What’s your take on how Club Row has changed? And how does Pink Elephant continue to attract a hot crowd year after year?

Shawn Kolodny: We don’t worry about those around us, and what others on the block might or might not be doing. We concentrate on providing our guests with the best possible experience—from the service, to the decor, to the special effects, to our strict door policy, and ,of course, to our great music.  It’s our attention to detail and customer satisfaction that keeps our customers coming back allowing us to maintain a great crowd.

CP: Were there ever talks of changing Pink Elephant’s NYC locations based on the stigma that West Chelsea now has?

Shawn Kolodny: We like where we are, and continue to have a great business.  We can see the negative stigma starting to fade already as development in West Chelsea continues.

CP: Pink Elephant has a patented liquid nitrogen tank that showers dancers with bursts of cool air, along with a scent machine that can fill the room with up to 30,000 different smells. Where did these ideas stem from?

Shawn Kolodny: We wanted to create an experience for all the senses and these were some of the ways we accomplished that goal, immersing the guest in an overall experience.  The best smell we have is an aphrodisiac, ylang ylang.

Pink Elephant NYC
Pink Elephant New York

CP: The Pink Elephant in the Hamptons is now in its 3rd season. Given that there are only 16 Saturdays in the short Hampton season, the pressure must be enormous. Is a presence in the Hamptons essential if you’re looking to cater to Manhattan’s elusive “high-end” clientele?

Shawn Kolodny: The pressure is enormous. We have 33 days to make our money for the year.  The weather really needs to be our friend.  We don't want to be out of sight, out of mind, so the goal is to make money and at the same time, cater to our high-end clientele even when they leave the city.

CP: Some say the East End is turning into West Chelsea. Do you agree with that?

Shawn Kolodny: Not at all, it’s apples and oranges.

CP: How so?

Shawn Kolodny: The Hamptons season is short and the crowd is limited in size.  You have one chance to make a first impression out East, so the first few weeks set up your whole summer.  It’s important to get it right the first time.  Having a great staff and strong brand like the Pink Elephant always helps make that job easier.

CP: It’s been rumored that you’re opening Pink Elephant satellites in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Brazil. Can you tell us about these ventures?

Shawn Kolodny: They are all true, and slated for the end of this year, through the beginning of ‘09.  I will make sure to send you an invite to the opening!

Pink Elephant Southampton
Pink Elephant Southampton

CP: How do you and your partners tailor the Pink Elephant satellites to fit the social scenes in the various cities in which they’re located?

Shawn Kolodny: We  find local partners in each city that have access to the crowd and scene that we cater to, at the same time making sure to provide the same level of service and experience of our flagship Pink Elephant.  

CP: With your level of success, how do you decide what projects to undertake next?

Shawn Kolodny: Some projects present themselves to us, while there are other projects and markets that we seek out. The synergies and fit have to be right.

CP: When you’re not at your own hot spots. Any other clubs, bars or restaurants you like to frequent?

Shawn Kolodny: I usually like to lay low when I’m not working.  But if I do make it out, it’s to Rose Bar, or the Garden of Ono, or Soho House.

Click here for more information on Pink Elephant New York.
Click here for more information on
Pink Elephant Southampton.

 

 

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