On paper, it might look like a recipe for failure: Two New York nightclub owners decide to try their luck in Charlotte – by bringing us “a slice of New York nightlife.” After all, New York mentalities and perspectives sometimes don’t play well around here.
But the owners of the new Butter Charlotte on the northern edge of uptown aren’t your average Manhattan nightclub owners. One of them – 35-year-old Scott Sartiano – is guided by a Carolinas upbringing, having attended high schools in Columbia, Greenville, N.C., and Hendersonville; his parents live in Kannapolis.
The 8,300-square-foot, bi-level space has hosted private events every weekend since its soft opening last month. Tonight, Butter opens its oversized, faux-cow-skin-adorned doorway to the masses. It’s another feather in the cap for the N.C. Music Factory, which also boasts concert venue The Uptown Amphitheatre, live-music club The Fillmore Charlotte and Halo nightclub.
To give you a sense of how big a deal the clubs owned by Sartiano and business partner Richie Akiva in NYC are, become a regular reader of the New York Post online and you’ll eventually see their names on Page Six.
The Yankees celebrated their 2009 World Series win at Sartiano and Akiva’s Chelsea nightclub 1OAK. In December, their Butter restaurant in Lower cap Manhattan hosted an album release party for R&B crooner Robin Thicke; Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Usher were in attendance. Oh, and Sartiano’s exes include actresses Ashley Olsen and Jamie Lynn-Sigler.
So will our Butter become a regular hangout for celebrities, too? Almost certainly.
Julius Peppers of the Carolina Panthers has stopped in. Actor Wilmer Valderrama of “That ’70s Show” intended to celebrate his 30th birthday there last Friday night, but was snowed in in New York. Paris Hilton’s sister, Nicky, is slated to be at Butter tonight. And Black Eyed Peas reportedly will stop by after their concert at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday for an after-party sponsored by Bacardi (rumor has it will.i.am will serve as guest DJ).
“It’s important to have celebrities in a club,” Sartiano says. “That said, I don’t focus my business around them. I focus my business in good service and a great atmosphere, which is what ultimately keeps everyone – whether you’re a celebrity or not – coming back.”
In conversations with Sartiano, it wasn’t entirely clear what type of crowd he and Akiva are hoping to attract. On the one hand, it sounds like they plan to embrace everybody. But he also suggested that certain types of people aren’t welcome.
When asked to elaborate, Sartiano says, carefully: “Richie and I have always prided ourselves in making sure that our venues cater to a wide demographic of people.… That said, people with a great sense of style, fashion and culture create the vibe we want to maintain at Butter.” How will this very-New York mentality play in Charlotte? Time will tell.
But on a recent Saturday night, Butter’s lower level was packed with happy-looking people – a wide demographic of happy-looking people – from velvet-covered wall to velvet-covered wall.