Nightlife king David Grutman: Miami is the best city in the world

By Madeleine Marr

Dave Grutman at STORY
Dave Grutman at STORY

Where’s the party?

There’s one guy in town who usually has the answer to that question.

David Grutman.

He’s the brain matter behind such hot nightclubs as Story and LIV at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, as well as Brickell fave Komodo.

Grutman also has a presence in the Design District, opening a café called OTL earlier this year. It stands for “Out to Lunch,” and where you can find him hanging out most days.

Not bad from a kid from Naples.

“Most of my friends growing up were like 99 years old and they’re all dead!” laughs Grutman. “But I know how to play a mean game of shuffleboard.”

The plan was to stick around and go into the insurance business, but after graduating University of Florida in 1996, Grutman made the fateful decision to take a bartending job at Biz Bistro inside Aventura Mall.

“I fell in love with hospitality,” he says simply. “Thank God my path took a different turn.”

Seeing his success, Grutman says some of his high school friends ask when he is opening a spot up in his old stomping grounds.

Hmm, not happening any time soon.

“Naples is a beautiful city,” acknowledges Grutman, “But it’s too seasonal. That’s the sad thing.”

Hopefully, some of his pals can come take a trip this weekend to check out all Grutman has going on in the Miami area.

For the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the nightlife king is creating The David Grutman Experience, from 3 p.m.-5 p.m.Sunday at Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village.

With his name attached to it, this event has got to be off the chain.

“Oh, man, yeah,” says Grutman, who was approached by fest founder Lee Schrager with the idea. “People will kind of get a look at my lifestyle and how I see Miami.”

Expect eats from Dave’s favorite SoFla neighborhoods, high-energy beats by mega DJ Sebastian Ingrosso and frozen cocktails that Grutman loves to mix and imbibe on his VanDutch yacht, aka The Groot.

Grutman is duly pumped to host, something he does quite well, and hopes to get a mixed crowd of millennials who don’t normally rush out to food fest affairs.

“Can I tell you? There’s nothing more important than this event right now to me. Listen, I am a really busy guy. But anything I can do for Miami to boost it, I will. I just love Miami. And I would like to show it to a new generation.”

Sounds like Grutman is here to stay, with multiple projects in the pipeline (look for major announcements soon).

“I now have a fingerprint in different areas — South Beach, Brickell, the Design District — and I plan to do more,” says the gregarious entrepreneur. “My goal is to have a full service lifestyle brand, from morning to night.”

Sounds like a plan. So were does Grutman get all the 24/7 energy?

“I’m 42. so not so young, but I have a young wife so that helps,” says Grutman, who married model Isabela Rangel last April in a star studded wedding at Wynwood Walls with guests that included Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.


Sunsetting with @isabelarangela

A post shared by David Grutman (@davegrutman) on

Asked how he’ll top that party for the couple’s one year anniversary, Grutman is slightly stumped.

“Everyone is asking me to redo my nuptials,” says the Miami Beach resident. “All I can say is marriage has been great for me, obviously. Just awesome.”

So don’t expect this happy man to pull up stakes any time soon. Miami’s nightlife is growing and he is growing right alongside it.

“At this point I could live anywhere in the world,” Grutman states. “But this is where it’s at. Miami is where people come to lose their inhibitions and be rock stars. Plus we have so much — Basel, Ultra, culture, great restaurants. I think it’s just going to keep geting better.”

As for upcoming club trends, it’s go big or go home.

“You’ll always have the smaller clubs,” he says. “But when you get that dramatic Ibiza kind of feel, when everything is working, it’s really special.”

As for sounds at his venues, Grutman sees old school hip hop coming back.

“People will always want to go out and dance and have a great time. I love to see it.”

Tickets: All proceeds from benefit the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University;