Having first connected working at Ian Schrager’s Lower East Side PUBLIC Hotel in New York, Matthew Charles, Matthew Kliegman, and Carlos Quirarte officially joined forces in 2021 to create their own hospitality group. With six venues now operating in various parts of the city—including Jac’s on Bond in one of the trio’s original iconic spaces—Authentic Hospitality is continuing its mission to develop, manage, and operate some of the city’s most beloved, intimate (and authentic) food and beverage concepts. Here, the partners talk early inspirations, their unique nightlife offerings, and adapting in a changing industry.
Let’s start with your backgrounds. Carlos, how did you get into the fashion world and start working with Shinola?
Carlos Quirarte: I worked on the marketing and business development side of fashion. I was the director of culture for Shinola and Filson. I always wanted to work in fashion; I initially wanted to craft my own line in denim. I got into it from the retail side, working in a concept shop for Levi’s, and so forth. After my first few gigs, I realized I had a knack for marketing and business development, forging collaborations and events.
Matt Charles, you worked with Ian Schrager and then Golden Age. What did you learn from those experiences?
Matthew Charles: Ian has an eye for talent and attracts the best. Being in the room with him and those around him was a priceless education. Building up Golden Age and navigating the pandemic, I realized I wanted to build my own group.
Matt Kliegman, what drew you to hospitality?
Matthew Kliegman: I was a finance major at NYU when I started throwing parties downtown. I enjoyed creating environments where people could have fun. I did work at a large bank once I graduated but quickly felt hospitality’s gravitational pull.
How did the three of you meet?
MC: We opened PUBLIC Hotel NYC together. I oversaw all things bars and beverages, and Matt [Kliegman] and Carlos had nightclub Public Arts.
Why do you work well together?
MC: We all have our lanes. I focus on operations. We have different personalities and specialties, but we’re like-minded and share the same values and goals for Authentic Hospitality.
What did you want to create with the Smile, the first restaurant you opened together in 2009 and closed in 2020?
MK: We wanted the Smile to feel like a clubhouse retreat, away from the hustle of New York, down a few steps, a stone’s throw from the high streets of Bowery and Lafayette [in the space that now houses Jac’s on Bond]. The building was built in 1830—the oldest in the neighborhood—and that age evokes such warmth.
You recently opened Pebble Bar in a townhouse on West 49th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Was its location ever a deterrent?
CQ: The location was a deterrent in that we were unfamiliar, and was not a deterrent in that it was an undeniably beautiful space on one of the most iconic streets and locations in the city. The only thing was lack of neighborhood familiarity. Luckily, we brought in partners who know it super well.
What did you ask Gachot Studios to create there?
MK: John and Christine [Gachot] are good friends. We wanted the space to feel residential and intimate, boast different vibes on the different floors, and be beautiful and timeless.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
MC: Slow down. I am high energy and am always pushing to do more and make things better.
CQ: Sean MacPherson shared what he thinks is important. It was ‘the people you’re with, the room you’re in, and then everything else.’ You want it to be about the offerings, but at the end of the day, it’s the people you’re surrounding yourself with and the crowd you attract. All we can do is create an atmosphere that pushes the guests to enjoy themselves, but ultimately, it’s on them and the people they’re accompanied by. This is not so much a piece of advice but something to keep in mind, which makes my endeavors less stressful.
How has the business changed?
MC: There’s been a lot of positive changes. More work-life balance for our team. But it is nightlife, and hospitality is a demanding career.
CQ: The things that changed needed to. Like any business that changes, we adapt and it ends up being for the better.
This article originally appeared in HD’s April 2023 issue.