Ever since the advent of fine dining and evening outings as social experiences, contemporary nightlife has never been more exciting and magical. People live for the weekend or late hours after work so that they can escape the monotony of weekday 9 to 5 routines and explore different worlds that offer adventure and heightened entertainment. As a result, there is never a shortage of places to go because of the fierce competition among establishments to innovate new experiences that will bring back the crowds. Across the pond in London, Ministry of Sound has been a household name for years that is renowned for its entertaining events and supersonic raves. In New York, Studio 54 still remains the most iconic name in the Pantheon of nightclubs and disco, while Peter Gatien has been forever immortalized as the original King of New York because of his numerous nightclubs (Palladium, Limelight and The Tunnel), which pioneered the trend of themed nights and attracted a slew of celebrities who made the experiences that much more special. On the Best Coast Johnny Depp’s Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard was one of the early spots which became a playground for the A-list elite, but today a new generation of venues has emerged, turning the city of Angeles into a truly cosmopolitan mecca void of any dull moments. Among some of the hottest nightclubs and restaurants in L.A. at the moment are Warwick, Aventine, and Beso, which have all been partly masterminded by Dave Jarrett, a serial entrepreneur who also just happens to be an avid animal lover and plant-based foodie!
He moved from SF to L.A. at 18 to attend USC and while there responded to a craigslist ad to work at a restaurant, and the rest is history as they say. The restaurant in question just happened to be Dolce, an exclusive eat-out backed by Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama, and Danny Masterson, all stars of the TV hit series ‘That 70’s Show’. Over time David became the Vice President of The Dolce Group and expanded its operations worldwide over a period of seven years. He later met his now partners Sylvain Bitton and JT Torregiani and founded ‘Les Deux’, one of L.A’s most legendary night spots, which eventually closed down after 4 years. Since the closure of ‘Les Deux’, Warwick has regained the crown as the hottest spot in the city with David spearheading the business operations of the venture. Some of his current endeavors include developing The Woodstock Academy of Music, an educational music program based in Woodstock, New York that is focused on innovating new approaches to learning music.
- You've been in the hospitality industry for your entire career and helped start some of the most amazing restaurants in the world. When exactly did you decide to become a vegan and what inspired your decision?
I grew up in Iowa, and became a vegetarian at age thirteen after making the connection between a pig and a pork chop, so to speak, as well as learning about and being completely disgusted by modern factory farming and slaughterhouse practices. Meat just didn't taste good anymore, and stopped being something that even registered as "food" to me. As many new vegetarians do, I substituted loads of eggs and dairy for the meat, and after a few years, I realized that the way I was eating was making me feel sluggish. Switching to a full vegan diet and reorienting my food intake around fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains changed the game entirely.
- Is there an increased demand for plant-based options on the menu in restaurants which you've helped start out or is veganism still a rarity in the haute cuisine world?
Demand is definitely increasing with each passing year. Throughout the years, it has always been important to me that restaurants I was involved in were able to accommodate vegan diners gracefully. For a long time, these offerings weren't particularly popular and didn't sell well, although the people that did order them would genuinely be able to eat a well-constructed vegan dish in an environment where they might not expect to find one. Now, even in "mainstream" restaurants, and especially higher-end establishments, offering vegan dishes has become the rule rather than the exception, and these offerings are becoming some of the best-selling items on the menu.
- What has been the highlight of your career so far and the most memorable moment you hold on to?
Tough question. I've always had a hard time picking favorites. It is not a single thing, per se, but perhaps the biggest highlight of my career has been the endless stream of amazing people I've had the privilege of working with, meeting, and befriending along the way. Working in hospitality in LA has given me the chance to spend time with more than a few of my childhood heroes, and it is never not exciting. One of my most memorable moments had nothing to do with my actual work. Since 2009, I've been engaged in the issue of youth and young adult homelessness in Hollywood and at one point was serving as chairman of the board for a scrappy, entrepreneurial non-profit arts academy and job training/placement program for homeless young people called Hollywood Arts (which we later merged into an incredible partner agency called My Friend's Place). I was introduced to a girl at an event who, upon learning that I was leading the organization, gave me an enormous bear hug and told me how the work we did had literally saved her life.
- L.A. is such a fast-paced modern city with new trends and competitors emerging on the scene everyday. What's your key to maintaining relevancy and staying ahead of the game?
Trends - and trendy things - come and go, but fundamentally I believe that there is always a place in the market for businesses who can consistently deliver on the basics: high-quality products coupled with a high-quality service experience. It is relatively easy to do something great for a short period of time, but incredibly difficult to maintain those standards day in and day out over the long run. It takes meticulous attention to detail, a commitment to reinvestment and reinvention, and, I believe, a genuine love for what you do.
- The motto that you live by or a crucial truth that you think all people need to know?
When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me to "always leave a room better than you found it." As best I can, I try to live by that simple philosophy.