Not many people can say that the time they spent attending late-night parties during their years at Brown was actually research, but Jon Neidich ’05 can. The chief executive of Golden Age Hospitality group in New York City—which owns a clutch of hotspots such as the Wythe Hotel, Acme, and the Happiest Hour—was an English concentrator but admits that he also spent considerable time honing his skills as a host. And these weren’t your standard sweaty undergrad festivities: “Oh, we’d come up with some overarching theme and then maybe create some sort of special cocktail; then we’d have a projector playing silent Japanese films,” says Neidich. “Even the playlist was carefully curated—and I’d say that a good 50 percent of that list is what I ended up playing at Acme.”
After dabbling in acting for a few years after graduating, Neidich found his way into the NYC hospitality scene—although he started on the ground floor, as a busboy, a door host, and then various roles in operations, a process he thinks was invaluable to his current position atop the food chain. “I think that was essential for me, to learn all those things along the way,” says Neidich.
Like his early parties at Brown, his latest creation is also a whole mood. The Nines, a NoHo piano bar inspired by touchstones including Bemelman’s—the iconic Upper East Side bar in the Carlyle Hotel—opened its doors in January and has been an immediate hit. (The name flicks at its address, 9 Great Jones Street, as well as the idiom, “to the nines,” which describes dressing notably well.) With wall-to-wall leopard-print carpet, deep-crimson sofas, glittering Murano glass chandeliers, and gold leaf wallpaper, the look is definitely notable—pure Gilded Age luxury, glamour, and romance. In the center of it all is a jet-black baby grand piano, where a curated list of nightly musicians play tunes that can be both unexpected—i.e. “Creep” by Radiohead, rendered on the piano—and tailored to the moment. (Yes, they sometimes will even take requests.)
It’s all part of the cozy elegance Neidich wanted to convey at the Nines, and it perfectly aligns with what he sees as the public’s palpable appetite for indulgent, sensory experiences. “That was taken away during the pandemic when everyone was at home. What we’ve brought together here—the music, the lighting, the food, the vibe—it’s a totally interactive experience.”