New York’s first “Nightlife Mayor” will be Ariel Palitz.
In an announcement expected later today, Mayor de Blasio will name the well-known Lower East Side resident/bar owner to head a new Office of Nightlife. The news was first reported by the New York Times.
The Office is Nightlife is intended to promote the industry, but as the Times put it also, “soothe the strained relations between the city’s night spots and the neighborhoods that complain about their merriment.” Palitz used to own Sutra Lounge on First Avenue and was a former member of Community Board 3. Her clashes with local residents fighting new liquor licenses were fairly legendary. In 2015, she founded Venue Advisors, “a full service hospitality consulting company with integrated licensed real estate services.”
More from the Times, which interviewed Palitz over cocktails at Lil’ Frankie’s:
Now in charge of a mayoral office with a 12-person advisory board, a $300,000 budget and a salary of $130,000 a year, Ms. Palitz seems to have realized that even a doyenne of New York night life must make a few concessions when joining city government. On her Tuesday evening drink, she was accompanied, for instance, by a minder from City Hall. While she admits that there were times in her career when she personified “what the no-bar movement rejected,” she also claimed that she has always tried “to find solutions that work for everyone.”
We interviewed Palitz a few years ago. You can read that interview here.
UPDATE 3:38 p.m. The mayor’s office is now out with a press release. Palitz’s official title will be, “Senior Executive Director of the Office of Nightlife.” According to the city administration, she “comes to the role with deep experience in both nightlife and community building.”
In a statement, the mayor said, “Nightlife is part of the spark of our city. It’s one of the few spaces where all our diversity comes together in a single room. Ariel has lived and breathed this work her whole life. She understands the needs of live musicians, artists, business owners and residents, and she’ll help bring everybody together to foster the kind of vibrant and safe nightlife New Yorkers deserve.”
I am honored to be chosen to lead New York City’s first Office of Nightlife. As a native New Yorker, former nightclub owner and community board member, I understand what is at stake and the challenges ahead. This Office presents an opportunity to support the small business owners, workers, artists, and all New Yorkers who make up our diverse nightlife culture. It is also an opportunity to build bridges with neighbors and address quality of life concerns. I intend to listen to all voices, identify problems, find common ground, and implement realistic solutions. The Office of Nightlife will be a place for operators, employees, creators, patrons, and residents alike. New Yorkers will no longer have to yearn for the good old days. With the Office of Nightlife, the best is yet to come.
The press release also included kudos from Julie Menin, commissioner of the Department of Media & Entertainment (the nightlife office is part of Menin’s portfolio); City Council Speaker Corey Johnson; and City Councilmember Rafael Espinal, who sponsored legislation creating the office.
Local Councilmember Carlina Rivera said:
Not only does Ariel bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise from her years in the nightlife industry, she knows New York City and is keenly aware of the risks that many individuals, women in particular, unfairly face when it comes to simply enjoying a night out. Safety is so important inside and outside of these establishments, and Ariel knows what a responsible operator should do to be a good neighbor. I know she will fight to ensure that everyone can access and explore our great city’s nightlife without feeling targeted or overwhelmed. I applaud the mayor and Commissioner Menin for appointing a community leader like Ariel, whose seven years of experience on Manhattan’s Community Board 3 cannot be overlooked. I am confident she will work to balance the important relationship that must exist between commerce and community. Our nightlife venues and the residents who live around them will finally have the champion they deserve.