Entrepreneur Henry Stimler Talks Jezebel, Kosher Dining & His Love For NYCFeb. 15th, 2013 | Comments 0 | Make a Comment
Photos Courtesy of Henry Stimler
sat down with dashing man-about-town, Henry Stimler in the midst of a chaotic week. For those that do not know of the charismatic Brit, Stimler’s history started as a wee lad who was born, raised and schooled in London. He soon left for Israel where he spent two years, working briefly at the international trading and mining company, Glencore, before moving to New York City in 2004 for an internship. During this time, Stimler discovered an arbitrage in the financial markets and started to raise capital. He started the company Phoenix SW Fund, with offices eventually spanning London, New York, Tel Aviv and Belgium; the company also held investments in Russia, Bulgaria, and Nambia among several other countries. However, in 2008 the economy folded and so did Stimler’s career in finance.
Stimler had invested money in Madame Wong's in NYC, a hip pop-up nightclub, and as they say, the rest is history—he was bitten by the hospitality bug. After four years in the New York City nightlife (at places like La Petite Maison and Winston's) Stimler opened his own place in the trendy neighborhood of Soho: Jezebel. The two-story townhouse has an ultra upscale, yet cozy and inviting feel. The walls are bedecked in modern art work, all done by local artists. Jezebel has since been frequented by socialites, celebrities, high profile athletes and those who appreciate a decadent kosher meal. Some notable guests include Lindsey Lohan, Sean Avery, Henrik Lunkquist, Bar Rafieli and Michael Strahan.
When we chatted, Stimler had just wrapped up his famed Casino Royale James Bond-style gala
, which took place at Capitale over the weekend. Stimler was also feeling the aftermath of his birthday bash at Jezebel from the night before. We chatted candidly about life, food, dreams and what is in store for the young entrepreneur.
JustLuxe: You are a man of the world and a jack of all trades and have been involved in a number of different projects over the years. How has that influenced where you are now?
Henry Stimler: I write this very hung over after my birthday yesterday so I apologize in advance. My life, like everyone else, has been a journey. I started off in finance and ended up in hospitality and nightlife. As a banker I constantly had to entertain—wine and dine clients. So I guess now that experience is invaluable. I get it. I know what makes a good night, what gives one that experience that they want to come back to over and over again.
JL: Your current project is your new restaurant Jezebel. When did you first conceptualize a kosher restaurant in New York City? How did the idea come about?
HS: Honestly, here goes: (It's terrible) I am kosher, but only with food. I was desperate to shag this beautiful girl named Lara (not Jewish) so I took her in my neighborhood to this restaurant. At the end of the night the bill was insane. I paid, got a peck on the cheek and she bounced. I was left ... hungry (I had a salad she had lobster), so I woke up my buddy and said, "Dude, we need a cool f***ing kosher restaurant.” That's it.
JL: Do you consider yourself a "foodie?” Why or why not?
HS: Honestly being kosher and a foodie don’t go together… until now. Jezebel has afforded me that luxury. I am finally tasting food the way it's meant to be cooked. We have a world class chef named Chris Mitchell that does an amazing job. I have put on 30 pounds but it's worth it once you taste his culinary fare.
JL: What do you predict as the next big trend in the restaurant industry?
HS: To me restaurants are the new nightlife. You’re not only going for food, you’re going for everything— ambiance, beautiful women, great music. The fine dining experience doesn't appeal to my generation right now; places like Daniel, etc. just don't interest us. We want the whole experience of food, plus.
JL: If you could give some words of advice to those wanting to open their own restaurant, what would it be?
HS: Don't do it. Everyone is gonna tell you how hard it is, but you’re gonna think you’re different. You’re not. It's one motherf-ing tough business. But if you are gonna do it, surround yourself with great people and don't let your chef beat you up, those dudes have egos the size of China. Food to them is art, respect that but don't let them control you.
JL: What is your favorite place you have traveled to and why?
HS: I have been lucky enough to have traveled the world, but my two favorite places are my home, NYC, and Israel. I came to New York with 400 dollars and a dream, slept on an air mattress at my friend's apartment for months. It's given me everything. I have made millions, lost millions, partied like it’s all over, met the most amazing people, women etc. This city is so special.
Israel is pride, it's pure joy. Let’s be honest, history has taught us one thing: Jews are not fighters, they are survivors. Not here! Here, they are fighters. They make it through. I have such an inherent sense of pride in Israel when I am there, a tiny nation surrounded by enemies, thriving. I love it there.
JL: What's in store for Henry Stimler in the upcoming year?
HS: Honestly, who knows […] dreams, plans, aspirations. I would like to open a nightclub, another restaurant uptown and one in Miami. Maybe have a foursome, skydive, and meet Anthony Hopkins and tell him how much I love him. Oh, and get to bury my head in Helen Mirren’s chest.
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