“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
- Mark Twain
From bar back to business mogul, Brooklyn born Matt Levine has been dazzling the New York scene since 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 2004, 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. “e 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. “e 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 participation,” 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 Restaurantuer 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 Entreprenuer” on Bank of America’s leading website, with Bank of America commenting that “Matt Levine is one of those guys–cool, hip 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!