Ric Addison is the owner of Addison Hospitality Group, whose venues include AVA Rooftop Lounge and The Bar (both at Dream Hotel), Inc. Lounge and, opening this August, his fourth venue, Monarch Rooftop Lounge. But Addison had humble beginnings before becoming a nightlife mogul as his career in hospitality started when he was working as a barback some 25 years ago.
Doing it the old-fashioned way, Addison worked hard to climb the ladder until he was put into a management position; from there he was able to use his years of experience to chart a hugely successful career in hospitality. Learning how to be flexible was one of Addison’s biggest obstacles in sustaining a core clientele. This was necessary in a city like New York, where the ever-changing nightlife scene sees club and bar openings on a daily basis.
Learning how to be competitive and stay relevant was one of the other crucial challenges for Addison, who has run AVA for 11 years. The secret to his success is "hard work, and giving customers the white glove service without the white gloves," he says. For Addison the customer always comes first, but he also says taking care of his staff is also of paramount concern.
The most significant change came for Addison post 2008, when everyone "was looking for a deal." People wanted more bang for their buck in a failing economy. Addison had to change his strategy to cope with the economy and straddle that precarious line of giving the customer what they want but maintaining a profit.
As well as the changing social and economic times, another challenge for any bar or restaurant in NYC is the weather. We met Addison at his latest venue Monarch, a rooftop bar, on a cold day in November when there was snow on the ground. Addison has created what he thinks will be the secret to surviving the colder months with his latest signature drink, organic hot chocolate infused with alcohol.
Addison was tightlipped about his next move but he did mention that he was in talks to open “a club like no other.” For now, though, we were quite happy to sit in the 5,000-square-foot venue of Monarch and sip their organic hot chocolate laced with Chocolate Godiva -- because hey, it's 5 p.m. somewhere, right?