"I don't consider myself 'Mr. Nightlife,'" says Harry Morton from the rooftop of the Gramercy Park Hotel. Perhaps an ominous statement coming from the seasoned restaurateur who has just launched his latest venture -- the reincarnation of Los Angeles's infamous Viper Room. But rest assured, Morton is no entrepreneurial slouch; in fact, building brands is quite literally in Morton's blood (his father co-founded the Hard Rock Cafe, while his grandfather created the Morton's Steakhouse chain). The debut dining industry dip for Morton fils, Pink Taco, has locations in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Scottsdale and has attracted pilgrimages from every celebrity under the sun. "What I want to do is create an LVMH of my brands," says Morton, who also recently invested in the new Tequila, DeLeon.
"Pink Taco pays the bills. The Viper Room is my passion project." Morton is scouting potential spaces for the Viper Room's NYC outpost (something downtown, "probably below Houston"). "I don't want to be some awful Live Nation company," says Morton, referring to the corporation he blames for killing live music in the same way bottle service killed nightlife. To please a fickle nightlife industry, Morton is sticking to what he loves: rock and roll. Expect big acts with even bigger production value. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old will continue expanding his empire and awaiting the day when Journey's Steve Perry and Neal Schon reconcile their differences -- Morton's dream musical reunion.
Grooming by Hee Soo Kwon for Kiehl's at the Wall Group