The L.A. Times recently named L.A. area Iranian Jewish businessman Sam Nazarian as the most powerful nightclub owner on the West Coast after his company, SBE Group recently acquired its largest Los Angeles night-life competitor, Syndicate Hospitality. The move now gives Nazarian’s SBE a total of 12 popular club venues primarily located in the Hollywood area and gives the company control of a total of 25 trendy hotels, restaurants, lounges and nightclubs. According to the Times article Nazarian has said his privately held company will own or operate 35 venues by April of 2012. The now 35-year-old Nazarian made headlines back in 2007 when his privately-held company acquired the iconic Sahara Hotel in Vegas for an estimated $300 million. He recently announced plans to shut down the hotel but reopen it in 2014 as an SLS Las Vegas, with six restaurants and two nightclubs.
For many Southern California young Iranian American Jewish professionals, Nazarian from the start of his success has been an icon they have admired. Their main interest is in the fact that Nazarian is someone from their generation who has gone outside their community’s traditionally desired career path of medicine, law or engineering and ventured into the hospitality industry, quickly rising to the top. I believe the younger generation of Iranian American Jews has also had admiration for Sam Nazarian because over the past several years he has also opened his nightclubs here in L.A. for fundraisers on behalf of the “Friends of the I.D.F.” and to benefit Israeli victims of terror during the 2006 Hezbollah war. Likewise Nazarian comes from a Zionist Iranian Jewish family that has been well known for being very philanthropic to Israel related causes and universities in Israel for many years. In October 2010 his parent’s philanthropic “Y & S Nazarian Family Foundation” donated funds to UCLA for the created of the university’s new Israel Studies Center.
On a side note I have interviewed Nazarian on a number of occasions and found him to be one of the few down to earth, genuine and straight forward individuals in Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community. Overall I think he has been unfairly portrayed in the media over the years as some sort of flashy or slick night club owner, when in reality he is quite the opposite.
My 2008 exclusive podcast interview with Sam Nazarian can be heard here
Read about SBE’s desire to open an SLS Hotel in Tel Aviv.