Friday night in Hollywood, actors and celebutantes instantly recognizable to viewers of TMZ will likely descend upon the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard. Where are they heading? To MyHouse. No, not my one-bedroom apartment (thank God), but David Judaken's new multimillion-dollar lounge dubbed MyHouse.
"There's nothing more appealing to anyone who wants to go out than a good house party," explained Judaken, the club's co-owner, from inside MyHouse earlier this month. "A house party evokes a very different feel than a nightclub," he continued, as he walked through MyHouse's "bedroom," which includes an honest-to-goodness bed and nearby bathtub.
And while the concept of a club modeled after an upscale home is certainly not new (see icrave design's Villa on Melrose Avenue, which feels like a swank Hollywood Hills abode and boasts a faux library), few have taken the concept this far.
Walking into MyHouse, formerly Garden of Eden, is akin to leafing through the pages of Dwell magazine, with slick nickel-scaled ceilings, a dramatic glass-lined staircase, a functional kitchen as one of the venue's bars (the "bar" is a kitchen island), a living room with plush $8,000 Mogul couches, a second-floor bedroom and even a hot tub on the patio.
"It's just perfect," said Judaken of the 10,000-square-foot venue's Minimalist look, which he commissioned Dodd Mitchell (Thompson Beverly Hills) to design. Perfect for luring L.A.'s legions of interior design, that is, which is part of Judaken's plan to attract the top 10% of L.A.'s after-dark players -- the kind of people who may not be affected by the recession.
"People who go out in Los Angeles are increasingly venue-savvy," he said. "If you are going to change the Garden of Eden [where Judaken had a decade-long run], you better wow them. Our audience today is so much more sophisticated than they were four years ago."
According to the 38-year-old, design is an essential component of MyHouse. "It's all about guest retention," he said. "The response I've been getting is exactly what I wanted to achieve. When guests say, 'I've never felt comfortable like this [in a club],' I know they will be back. The trend these days is toward smaller places where you define your quality, what you want from your guests."
So what does Judaken want from his customers, who have in the past had no problem dropping $400 or more on bottle service at some of his other venues such as Opera? For starters, he wants a willingness to spend on luxury.
The renovation costs for turning Garden of Eden into the opulent MyHouse soared into the millions; meaning Judaken needs to start earning cash after the bar opens in earnest next month (January is reserved for A-list promoters such as the Alliance's Friday bash . . . they will serve as buzz agents, inviting to the bar such names as Lindsay Lohan and the small army of paparazzi who follow her every move; subsequently piquing the interest of the bottle-service set that frequents these high-rent venues).
But in an increasingly saturated Hollywood scene, during a very real recession, has Judaken opened the wrong bar at the wrong time?
"I'm very worried about the economy," Judaken concedes.
But the night-life impresario is even more worried about saturation in Hollywood, with a number of new lounges and upscale restaurants that serve alcohol in the immediate area fighting over the same pool of clubbers who descend upon the neighborhood on a nightly basis.
"I've been critical for some period of time that Hollywood was giving out too many entitlements and they were ruining the nightclub business. I know a lot of deals where people couldn't make their loans," he said, hinting that several well-known bars in the area are on the verge of closing.
"Then, that begins to ruin Hollywood, because operators are forced to make bad decisions in order to keep their doors open . . . catering to the wrong clientele and that kind of thing."
Still, Judaken is hopeful that his club's opulent look, creative drink options (Cucumber Mist, anyone?) and built-in crowd -- after years of relationships with notable promoters -- will help him rise above competitors in 2009.
"Without wanting to sound arrogant in any way, I think this is the most dynamic, best executed venue I've ever seen," he said. "I've always tried to have my clubs act as a catalyst for people to have a good time."
Welcome to Judaken's house and have a seat. If you can afford it, that is.