Business of Nightlife: With Industry Experts Ryan and Jason
“There’s nothing quite like it. Las Vegas is mainly tourist-driven with a new customer arriving every weekend."
Ryan Labbe and Jason Craig are two experts and entrepreneurs in nightlife. Hailing from Las Vegas, the two partners embody an incredible work ethic, eventually founding their own Clique Hospitality and 8182 Group. They describe themselves as “yin and yang, bringing balance to one another.” Both have an undeniable passion to excel and grow in hospitality, as well as other aspects of business.
Jason’s arrival in Las Vegas follows his tour of duty in Iraq in the United States Marine Corps, beginning his hospitality career at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and eventually working his way up the ranks. It was his gig at the hotel’s world-famous Center Bar where he perfected his craft as a bartender, going on to work at prominent Vegas day and nightlife institutions such as Body English, Moon Nightclub, and Rehab.
As for Ryan, his efforts stretch from San Diego to Vegas. The Rhode Island native began his journey in hospitality as a teenager at age 16, using his creative thought process and skillset to formulate unique experiences for both friends and patrons alike. Just last year, he was acknowledged on the 40 under 40 Vegas list by Las Vegas Sun. With each accomplishment, he proves dedication and hard work yields results.
“It’s always been something I enjoyed. It’s all about taking care of people and the guest experience.”
Both stand as testimonies for anybody working as a server or bartender in restaurants, to eventually become their own boss with their own companies. Ryan’s biggest fulfillment comes in his enjoyment creating concepts and expanding the business, while Jason likes to connect “with the people in the community as a business owner.” He adds, “It’s always been something I enjoyed. It’s all about taking care of people and the guest experience.”
However, it’s not all fun and games. There’s actually a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes, on the scene, etc. This means staying on your P’s and Q’s at all times. Jason brings things into perspective.
“Nightlife in general right is currently difficult. Vegas is the most competitive market for what we do, it’s 24/7 for us.”
Of course, there are many similarities between the Las Vegas and Los Angeles nightlife, as the biggest names in music and entertainment flock to both cities to perform, work, and turn up. But one thing remains certain: what happens in Sin City, stays in Sin City.
“Las Vegas is different from all markets in what we do,” Jason explains. “There’s nothing quite like it. Las Vegas is mainly tourist-driven with a new customer arriving every weekend. However, Los Angeles is great and a market we would love to be in one day.”
Jason and Ryan previously worked with Andy Masi as consultants for Light Group, working on a new project that pretty much got pulled from under their feet when the company got sold. That experience actually helped them bond even closer and work even greater, while preparing them for what’s to come.
Insert Jason and Ryan’s new Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails at The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. In comparison to the existing CliQue lounge, he describes it as “a completely unique concept and space on the Las Vegas strip.”
With the speakeasy element and live music component, we’ve created an experience unlike anything else. CliQue Bar & Lounge is programmed almost every night of the week with cocktail competitions, sports viewings, you name it. The space appeals to all and we play off that with our programming.”
Staying creative and bringing a new tier to the nightlife space, they attribute their success and influence to years of valuable experiences and relationships. Jason reiterates, “Nightlife has been our business for over a decade, and we utilize the amazing relationships we’ve built over the years.”
Regardless of the trade, audiences can take away and be inspired by the fact that hard work pays off. A normal day in the life consists of waking up and going to the gym. Shortly thereafter, they usually post in the office from 10am to 4 pm every single day meeting with the different teams.
And if you feel good, you look good — which is why Jason’s heading to the gym for round 2.
“From there, I go home and usually work on my own for a bit and then hit the gym again. I catch a little break, then head back out to one of the venues depending on the day. We have different programmed events nightly and we try and break up our time.”
Three essential items they can’t leave the house include their laptop, bottled water, and meal prep. They list their favorite Los Angeles nightclubs as Hyde Sunset and Warwick. So what’s their ideal night out? It’s actually a night in.
“Going to dinner and the movies,” Jason answers with a laugh. “We’re both out five nights a week and have been for the past 10 years. When not working, we try to get a little downtime!”
With business booming as usual, some immediate goals include continuing to grow the business and expanding the brand. This means trying new concepts outside of the realm they’ve been navigating, ultimately diversifying all aspects of their company.
As far as advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, Jason states: “Be creative and set yourself apart!”