OFF BROADWAY! S.D’s nightlife pioneer sets his sights on Hollywood Boulevard with an Art Deco ode to supper clubs, sushi and lingerie?
– By Stacy Rauen, Photography by Betsy Winchell
In the San Diego nightlife biz, the bragging rights belong to the one with the most stories. And we’re not talking drunken tales. When after-dark pioneer Mike Viscuso opened E Street Alley in 1992, one subterranean dance floor was fine enough. Then he opened three-story On Broadway and now clubs are going up like condo towers, vertical mega-complexes built for Bacchanalian glee. This month, Viscuso takes it to a new level with The Kress, a five-story Hollywood restaurant/lounge/sushi bar/nightclub housed in the former Frederick’s of Hollywood. Enlisting in-demand designer Davis Krumins (Stingaree, Universal), the look is Asian-inspired glam. And it’s the only club on Hollywood Blvd. with a full-throttle rooftop lounge. We get a sneak peek: San Diego, past and present? When I first came to San Diego, it looked like a ghetto. There are so many operators and developers investing in it that it is a real city now. S.D vs L.A? In San Diego people are nice. You drive two hours north, everyone is somebody who is really nobody. They do $100 million deals but can’t rub two nickels together. There are bigger business opportunities—and the more you are there, the more you like it—but San Diego is my home.
Why The Kress? It’s an Art Deco 1934 building—it should have been condemned. I found the original plans at UCLA. As we gutted it, we found hidden treasures—35-foot ceilings, marble staircases. We restored it back to the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood supper clubs.
After dinner? There’s a high-end nightclub in the basement and more entertainment on the third floor. And we have out rooftop patio with 360-degree views of Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood sign and Santa Monica. Each level has a different theme, different uniforms, and different music.
The uniform skinny? Frederick’s of Hollywood is designing the go-go dancers’ uniforms and Bebe is doing the cocktail and server uniforms. The nightclub waitresses wear black bustiers, red bras and short skirts; third-floor waitresses wear black bustiers with white lace, pink bras and short skirts; and go-go dancers are decked out in very theatrical outfits, our version of the Pussycat Dolls.
Vegas, baby? I built in Hollywood as a conduit to get to Vegas. I can entertain in Hollywood and cross-promote celebrities to both Vegas and San Diego, which will bring a different excitement to San Diego.
So in all cities, what would never be missed in the nightlife world? Arrogant promoters.