Meet Matt Levine
From barback to business mogul, Brooklyn born Matt Levine has been dazzling the New York scene since his teenage years. This atypical downtown impresario, entrepreneur and restaurateur has created more unforgettable nights at his round table than most can dream.
After graduating a year early with a Double Concentration in Entreprenurial Studies and Marketing from Muhlenberg College in 2003, Levine launched his own clothing line, Steelo in 2004, and went on to retail at over 125 stores world-wide, ranging from Atrium New York to Fred Segal LA, as well as internationally at Beams Japan to Holt Renfrew Canada, showcasing at such fashion shows Bread & Butter Berlin & Margin London, in which earned him a spot as one of the Top 20 Brands in the World by WGSN (World Global Style Network).
Continuing to build his mini-empire, The Eldridge was born in 2008 from creativity and the pursuit of his true passion, hospitality. Rumored to generate the most revenue per square foot in Manhattan, this exclusive Lower East Side luxury lounge hosted several A- list regulars Beyoncé, Donald Trump, Jay Z, Prince and Richard Branson. The Village Voice even declared the hotspot "Best Display of Marketing Genius," along with Fox News calling it a "club that even famous people can't get into." Details Magazine went on to later name The Eldridge as "1 of Top 3 Hotspots in New York City" while InStyle reviewed The Eldridge in their Travel Like a Star Section, profiling that the "New York Hotspot, nightlife guru Matt Levine likes focusing on the finer details." The Eldridge would go on to receive daily accolades and features, ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post before Levine sold it in 2011 to focus on his next project.
With the success of The Eldridge, and Levine being an active member in the Lower East Side Community, popular fashion blog, TheFashionSpot.com, labeled Levine a “downtown influencer” and proclaiming – “downtown hospitality enterprenuer, Matthew Levine, has, in a very short time, solidified himself as a major player in the Lower East Side nightlife scene. As the owner of The Eldridge, he took marketing tactics to the next level…” In similar fashion, Julib.com labeled Levine a “trendsetter” and the “unofficial mayor of the Lower East Side.”
For some, this may have been their biggest achievement but being motivated by "thinking outside the circle, not the box" Levine has always been focused on accomplishing personal goals, the joy of creating, and the satisfaction of team building, while putting a unique product and service out there.
With the success of The Eldridge, many brands and personalities approached Levine about handling their personal Branding, Marketing and Special Events, so in 2008 Levine partnered up with then, former Vice President of Lizzie Grubman PR; Public Relations guru, Kelly Brady to create Brandsway Creative, a full service-boutique Branding, Marketing, Public Relations and Special Events company. To date, Brandsway Creative boasts an impressive roster of clients, split up into 4 division, People, Places, Products & Special Events, representing such personalities as Victoria Secret supermodel Jess Hart, the face of Maybelline supermodel Jessica White, Sports Illustrated model Julie Henderson, amongst countless other artists, musicians, personalities, supermodels, as well as many cutting edge products and influential venues across the country, along with hosting and producing recognizable special events across the globe at Art Basel, at International Fashion Weeks, Sundance, and Superbowl.
With downtown-centric thinking, Levine decided to take things to the next level and in 2011 created and opened Sons of Essex once again reinventing the LES hospitality and restaurant scene. The Wall Street Journal claimed, "Sons of Essex is reminiscent of the Bowery Boys era” and labeled the cuisine “mouthwatering,” while Zagat commented in a review that the "Food is amazing...dishes done very well. The only problem? We wanted more!" while the Wall Street Journal reviewed Levine’s dishes and menu as “mouthwatering.”
Vogue delcated the retaurant a “hotspot, “ with the Daily News labeling Levine an “A-List Restaurantuer.” While under Levine's stewardness, Sons of Essex received 4 out of 5 stars on booth OpenTable.com, and Google, along with a 97% rating on both the Urbanspoon.com and JetSetReport.com-while be voted a "Top 5 Restaurant in NYC"-listed amongst other restaurant staples - Atera, Per Se, and NoMad. Further under Levine's operations, Sons of Essex received such accolades as 'Favorite NYC Hotspots of 2012" by Hollywood Life, "Favorite Comfort Foods" of 2012 by Restaurant Girl, "#1 of 5 Biggest Openings of the Year" by Forbes, "One of the top five biggest openings by Thrillist, along with being voted by Tri-State dinners as one of the "Top 10 Hotspot Restaurants in the Tri-State area" by Opentable.com. A-list diners from Ben Stiller, Justin Bieber, Padma Lakshmi, Pink, Sting, Will Ferrell and the cast of Twilight are just some of the celebrity clientele that follows Mr. Levine.
New York Magazine noted that “ Levine’s celebrity-packed Rolodex has offered up enough Page Six who's who sightings to merit the “in” crowd's stamp of approval.” To further that "stamp of approval" – popular lifestyle website, 12ozProphet.com declared “Levine’s restaurants establish a loyal following” and similarly TheFashionSpot.com would acknowledge that “Levine’s spots have a sizeable celebrity following.” BankofAmerica.com’s prominent business blog adds that "Levine has captured that elusive buzz over and over again, garnered a great amount of press and cultivated celebrity following for each of his ventures."
Along with Levine’s keen ability to bring in brand partnerships, focus on customer service, and notable special events, in his pursuit to “not read the book, but write his own book,” Levine has stepped outside the proverbial box by leveraging Social Media and YouTube as his main marketing channels of choice for his restaurants showing a little creativity can be contagious, becoming not only a restaurateur, but a branding expert as well. Celebrated culinary website, Culintro noted Levine’s “innovative promotional techniques,” while further stating “Levine's restaurants are high-profile and highly creative in both concept and execution," along with Mashable featuring Levine stating, "The success of [Levine’s restaurants] videos can be a lesson to other small businesses.”
Nearsay.com continued accolades stating "Matt Levine is one of New York's leading entrepenuers, developing a unique brand through social media and neighborhood particpation," While going on to demonstrate that Levine is "known as one of the forerunners of New York City progression...leading some of the most popular restaurants in Manhattan to success over the last decade" while having a "notable presence on social media, developing a strong brand a loyal following" with "his conceptions of neighborhood hotspots, Levine's restaurants are highly creative and cater to a high end clientele."
In following through with his passion for hospitality, creating a unique experience and his presence on social media, Levine created #LESbeat, a pop-up event, in which Levine, along with Redbull rent a Lower East Side warehouses for an open bar, private ticketed, free of charge with 100% of door donations given to a local charity. Tickets are exclusively distributed to fellow Lower East Side entreprenuers and local influencers, including Opening Ceremony and Reed Space. The invite is launched via YouTube, with top DJ’s, billboard performances and the warehouse location all kept a secret from attendees. The last #LESbeat Levine produced garnered over 5,000,000 media impressions, with just over 2,000 ticketed guests attending. Published reports has labeled #LESbeat “the event of the year.”
With Levine’s attention to detail, downtown branding, creative marketing, trend forecasting, and unparallel customer service and operations he created indieFORK, a full service food & beverage and operations company in early 2013, focused on "downtown-inspired" hospitality that develops, manages, operates and owns a portfolio of influential cocktail bars, lounges and restaurants.
In his personal life, Nightclub.com in an interview with Levine commented that he was “very down to earth in an industry of egos.” Levine has donated and is involved in such charities as the Bowery Mission, Grand Street Settlement, Lower East Side Girls Club, Taste of Lower East Side and his friend, Padma Lakshmi's Endometriosis Foundation of America . Levine and his indieFORK team, along with his restaurants also participate in food festivals such as Hester Street Fair, Grub Street Food Festival, and New York Food & Wine Festival's Burger Bash and Grand Tastings.
Levine was one of the judges of Miss New York 2013, along with being named “one of New York City’s Top 100 most eligible bachelors” by Gotham Magazine and “Top 20 Hamptonites” by Hamptons Magazine.
Levine most recently interviewed by American Express which featured his creative and innovative use of YouTube videos in launching his menus and promoting his restaurants, as well as Business News Daily as a "NY Restauranteur Motivated by Teamwork: The Entreprenuerist" commenting “Though he is only in his early 30's, Matt Levine had already made quite a name for himself. In that time, Levine went from working in nightclubs and bars throughout high school and college to starting his own clothing line to opening a number of successful restaurants and nightclubs around New York City.” And most recently, Levine was featured as a "Serial Entrepreneur" on Bank of America’s leading website, with Bank of America commenting that "Matt Levine is one of those guys-cool, hop and seemingly born with a gift for creating and launching the next big thing."
Well what’s next for Levine? Well as SocietePerrier.com put it “in a city where few restaurants succeed and even fewer become instant arbiters of cool [Levine’s restaurants] is doing a stellar job of both” – Levine looks forward to the next steps in his hospitality and restaurant career!
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
- James Beard
“I have come to know Matt Levine through his work with the Lower East Side Business Improvement District where I am a board member and Vice President. I know first-hand how Matt and his team operate their business and if all the other restaurants and bars in the LES were operated in such fashion the neighborhood would be a better please for everyone. He completly lived up to his promises – mainly that it would be a restaurant, first and foremost.”
- Michael Forrest, Board Member & Vice President, L.E.S. Business Improvement District
“As a restaurant owner and CB3 member on the SLA board, I am writing in reference for Mr. Matt Levine. Mr. Levine is a respectable and active member in the community. He has operated since 2008 with 3 liquor licenses in the area and there were no major violations that I am aware of. Mr. Levine follows through on all stipulations put forther on his licenses and is a proven operator.”
- Wilson Tang, Community Board 3 Board Member
“I have known Matt [Levine] on a personal level for quite some time now and have taken great pleasure in observing his various successful ventures in the LES in recent years. He has consistently served as an ambassador and pioneer for a newer, slightly more posh, but approachable version of the LES – he will continue his run of success, while remaining true to the elcetic heritage of the neighborhood.”
– Tito Hill, 19 Stanton St, resident living above Levine’s establishment
“In the approximately 9 months since opening the restaurant, Matt Levine has been consitently responsible with regard to noise and crowd control, both of which had been big issues with the prior space. He & his organization have, thus far, delivered on promises to be responsible and to be available and responsible to the residents of the building. I believe my experience with Matt [Levine] as an operator is one that serves as an example that he operates with integrity.”
- Neils Heilmann, 133 Essex St. Condo Owner above Levine’s establishment
“Matt [Levine] is one of the most inspiring business people I know. He is hard working, efficient, and ambitious, but his high moral standard continues to surprise me to this day. He is someone who really cares about people, and who really cares about more than just his interests. I have seem the lengths he has gone to make sure his [venue] was an asset to the community, and to the extra care he showed all of the residents who lived nearby. I wish more business owners in my neighborhood would aspire to reach the bar Matt sets.”
- Gabriel Saport, Lower East Side Resident
“Matt Levine took exceptional care of the property, and continues to do so. This, I assume is no easy task, being in the bar and nightlife business. If any issues arise, himself and his staff are very reasonable and very easy to work with. Matt Levine and his staff also work very close with respect the neighbors both in building, as well as neighboring buildings in accommodating any requests they may have. They have kept the property and its surrounding area clean and tidy. Believe me, I know that good tenants are hard to find. You could not do much better than Matt Levine in your propery.”
- Former Landlord, The Eldridge (247 Eldridge St.), 247 LMS, Inc.
“Matt [Levine] was kind enough to talk with all the residents of the building to see if there were any concerns regarding the events held at the lounge. He provided his business card and said we should call him directly should we have any concerns. I have been fortunate enough not to have had any. The team Matt employs shows the same graciousness as he does. The people at the front of the lounge always greet me as I enter or exit the building. Only someone with great character would surround himself with great people as Matt has. The thoughtfulness and respect I have received from Matt and his team throughout my first year at this residence has reaffirmed my decision to live on a popular street in the Lower East Side. I fully recommend and back Matt Levine on any business ventures and endeavors he plans to undertake in the future.”
- Wendy Rodriguez, former resident living above Levine’s establishment
“Already an established restaurantuer, Matt [Levine] is an active participant in community board meetingsand local precinct gatherings to keep in touch with the community and their concerns. He takes an active role in trying to preserve the quality of life of the Lower East Side.”
- Stephen Maly, Lower East Side Business Owner
“Matt [Levine] is very respectful and mindful of the neighbors of [the] Street and has maintained his operation with these circumstances in mind since opening. He always has proper security, staffing and personnel to work the club, and manages patron needs and requests quickly and efficiently, ensure there are no loiterers on our street. His security door and team work in tandem with the neighbors to ensure safey every night they are open. I give him my utmost recommendation to pursue opening other ventures.”
- Taylor Choi, resident living above Levine’s establishment
“[Levine] has been an extremely good neighbor for the past few years. The staff is consistently diligent in regards to containing any potential noise issues, aways keeps the sidewalk clean, is friendly, and involved in keeping our black a safe and residential one. We have never had any issues with them nor the clientele they attract.”
- Michael Marinoff, resident living above Levine’s establishment