How does one go from nightlife promoter to creating curated eating experiences? What do those two even have in common? We sit down and explore these questions and a few others with North 3rd Marketplace partner and no, there is no guestlist tonight or velvet rope to stand behind!
cnnctd: Your name?
Manny: Manny Del Castillo.
cnnctd: Where are you from, Manny?
Manny: I'm from Jackson Heights, Queens.
cnnctd: Okay. How'd you get started in Nightlife?
Manny: In Nightlife? I guess it's a two-fold story. I guess it started back in maybe like '92. Went to a party with guys from my neighborhood, older guys, DMS guys. Ezak, this guys brought me to one of Bill's (Spector) parties, Sheets and Pillows.
cnnctd: Yeah I remember Sheets and Pillows.
Manny: It was at that old Village Gate. And then I met Bill at the party. After that, fast-forward a couple years. '96 I started working at a store called "Diesel". It was the first Diesel store ever to open in the U.S. and I was lucky enough to kinda get recruited to work at the shop. So back then, working at Diesel, first flagship in America, all nightlife people came to the store and eventually asked, "Hey, you wanna promote, you wanna do parties?" That's kinda when I ran back into Bill. That's basically how I got into nightlife. From working retail, to knowing Bill, we started doing parties together downtown. That was kinda my schick. I was working high-end fashion retail during the day and doing nightlife stuff with Bill at night.
cnnctd: So how do you feel about the current state of nightlife now in New York?
Manny: Well I mean I'm far removed after Bill and I had a nice, long run. Bill and I did have a company called Smack together that we partnered up and had a clothing line called Spoonfed. That was the beginning of the end for Bill and I. It was kinda when we had a big fight, we went our separate ways, and then I partnered up with another guy named Chris and opened up a club called Room Service. Then I opened up this club called Griffin, and then that was pretty much like the end of my nightlife phase. I was kinda really burnt out of it then.
Manny: So that's why we're kinda here in the market and this new concept that I'm doing is kind of where I wanted to segue out of nightlife and do something different. So the first market I did was called Gansevoort Market. That closed and then I partnered up with a buddy of mine, decided to do our own under our brand called Marketplace along KTPL.
cnnctd: Was gonna ask you, how'd you start out in food?
Manny: Well the market model was something I always wanted to do, kinda mixed-use. Generally grew into more food and beverage. At first it was supposed to be like a retail shop, think like a Union. Go back in the day Union: a retail shop, a barbershop, flower shop, maybe a sandwich shop. I'm sure you know retail is tough these days, and food and beverage is like the dominant thing. If you're going to have a business, you're winning with food and booze type of thing.
Manny: That's kinda where the model grew at Gansevoort. We got all these food vendors to come in and the model worked great. I loved the curation process, and designing it, and putting it all together. Like I said, it was natural. We just partnered up with the landlord here in Williamsburg and opened up our North 3rd street market. We're working on project #2 under the Marketplace umbrella. We're opening up Marketplace at Empire Outlets.
Manny: Another development on the waterfront is Staten Island that we're doing for fall 2019.
cnnctd: That makes sense. Retail has taken a hit because of the internet and you don't have to go to a store anymore, you just order what you want online. Food and beverage are the one things that you actually have to physically go and get.
cnnctd: I was gonna ask why food hall and the market, but you just answered that question.
Manny: But also it's experience that you're gonna see. You're here, you're going to watch the growth, the homies on. Half of the vendors on board are kind of homies in essence. People that have a long relationship with.
Manny: So the process here is one caveat that I didn't have at the Gansevoort where we were able to flex. Here it's have these retail spaces that you see one worth sitting. Sometime in mid-June, Futura and Stash are taking the space.
Manny: They're gonna be the first artists that are featured in this space. There will be a print shop where you can come get prints and they'll have their work on display within the space. Then there will be other artists that rotate.
cnnctd: Like Recon all over again.
cnnctd: I don't think people might remember that. That was what? Mid-90's right? Nort Recon and Project Dragon.
Manny: Project Dragon!
cnnctd: Yeah, shit. Wow. That's taking it back. So I mean, no point in asking you how North 3rd come about.
Manny: Well North 3rd the name or just the?
cnnctd: I mean well it's North 3rd.
Manny: Exactly and we didn't wanna over-complicate it. You know?
cnnctd: Yeah. It's pretty straight-forward. So, that being said, what are the similarities between nightlife and a food hall?
Manny: Well for me, the nightlife thing, I was kind of promoter at first, then I became like an owner-operator, but at the end of the day I feel like a promoter by trade. It's kind of like my thing. I love filling spaces. It's a great feeling being in a room, if you're doing a party, and the room is packed and rocking and same thing goes here. In essence, the vendors now become your promoters. They're in the market and their goal is to kinda get the place packed and busy and everybody killing it.
cnnctd: So that's how you pick the vendors that you have and the food that you have?
cnnctd: Based on the crowd and the audience and basically your taste.
Manny: 100%, for sure.
cnnctd: And I guess, atmosphere is also equally important. Bill was telling me you're a stickler for texture.
Manny: Yeah. Well that's the thing. It's kinda like I'm blessed to take a raw space and kinda visually see what I wanted it to look like two years ago when we first came on the property. I could show you some pictures. Sammy the Joo, he's got some of the earlier shots. This place, you couldn't recognize it. That's the fun part too where now like I got into this hold out. Like I said, I hate titles and I'm like even weird about doing interviews. I never really done stuff like this before. Myself and my partner Jamie, we've designed the space, we did all the branding, we curated it, and that's kinda what we're doing.
Manny: Apart from all the other food halls, these activations like I just described with Futura and Stash on the property. Then if you step here where you see the glass cubes that we got, we're calling them Incubator Capsules. We're gonna feature and rotate different pop-ups in there, whether it could be furnishing, it could be like Nike wants to showcase a sneaker. It's anything, you know? Anything could live within the capsules. The first two people that are taking the two capsules we have is we kinda wanna embrace the artisans we work with.
Manny: Mike Crest, who did the furnishing, is gonna have one space where he'll feature his furnishing, his light fixtures. And then the other space, Baker Structures, who did the tree trunk installation in the front where you walk in, he's gonna showcase a majority of his work in that space. And so it's all kinda like tying things in.
cnnctd: It's very all visual. I would imagine you also probably going to curate music as well?
cnnctd: Are you going to have different musicians?
Manny: We're gonna have different bands, gonna have DJ's plugged in.
cnnctd: What do you see in terms of the role of social media and dining and food hall?
Manny: I don't know. I'm a little old-school in the sense that I don't know. I mean, obviously I have an Instagram, but I'm not like Instagram-savvy. I think it's an important tool.
cnnctd: Are you just gonna count on your vendors to handle that for themselves and kinda direct the traffic here?
Manny: Correct, yeah yes! We have PR, we have our old social media channels, obviously we have our own grassroots marketing tools that we use.
cnnctd: Your focus is more on actually curating and filling the actual vendors as opposed to that. You don't want to worry about the social media aspect.
Manny: Well no we do have a social media team that's handling all our social.
cnnctd: Yeah, but that's not your thing in terms of you don't focus on that. You just know that someone handles that?
Manny: I focus it in the sense that I tell them how I want it to look, feel and sound, yes.
cnnctd: That's important!
Manny: Yeah. We have Sammy, who you know, shoot most of the content. We have these two girls named Bre and Lee, who are the social media managers, but I direct them.
cnnctd: You have your aesthetic and that's what you care about. I mean obviously, that's done well for you.
Manny: Yeah, yeah. For sure.
cnnctd: Five years ago, what were you doing?
Manny: Five years ago I think I was still managing partner at Griffin, the nightclub, and I was kinda pitching the guys that had the club to open up a market.
cnnctd: Was that Gansevoort? What happened to Gansevoort?
Manny: Yes, it shut down. It was a pop-up, a proof of concept. Gansevoort shut down and the people behind Gansevoort decided to move it to 14th Street. At that point, I decided to go off on my own and do my own thing.
cnnctd: So that was like a test run basically, to see if that model would worked.
cnnctd: And once you figured out, you were like, "Hey, this is a viable, actual model. I can kinda go forth and do it on my own"
cnnctd: That makes sense. How do you see yourself five years from now?
Manny: Hopefully having one of these in every boro. That's the goal. Being from a born and bred New Yorker, I mean I'm getting one in Staten Island, I have one in Brooklyn, so I'm close to it. I'm three away.
cnnctd: You live in Staten Island?
Manny: No, I live in the West Village.
cnnctd: Oh, okay. Wow.
Manny: I've lived in Manhattan since '99.
cnnctd: Nice. So you just moved out of Queens
Manny: Yeah. As soon as I could get out of Jackson Heights, I was out of there.
cnnctd: I grew up in Harlem and my attitude was, "As soon as I can leave Manhattan, I'm going somewhere else". So I'm in Brooklyn. I guess when you live in the outer boros, you wanna come into the city. Then when you live in the city, you wanna leave the city.
Manny: Exactly, yeah.
cnnctd: All right, so do you have any parting words? Anything you wanna kinda?
Manny: Nah, I mean I'm feeling great, man. That's the only thing. I'm in a good place. Like if you would've asked where I was five years ago, people would title me Moody Manny. I'm definitely not that. I'm a little moody, but I definitely put a smile on my face more often.
cnnctd: But I think that's just a New York thing. I think New Yorkers, in a sense, we have this rough exterior just because we're just New Yorkers. Then once you actually sit down and talk to us, our demeanor is a little less rough and you're just focused.
cnnctd: We just know that we kinda have to sift through everything and kinda go through.
cnnctd: Well, thank you.
Manny: Awesome. Thank you, brotha.