ILM+E: How did you get involved in the hospitality and nightlife industry?
AG: My first hospitality gig was at a nightclub in Chicago called the Dragon Room. That’s actually where I met my business partner, Billy Dec. We realized very quickly that we had a lot of the same passions and interests in terms of how we wanted to run businesses and what we wanted the customer experience to be like. We continued on a path for the last 20 years, building and owning restaurants and nightclubs, including The Underground.
ILM+E: You briefly left The Underground to pursue a couple of independent projects. Could you tell us a bit about them?
AG: The first is Big Game Air, which is a luxury game day travel company. We create custom packages on private jets for groups to go to sporting events around the country. The second is Evoke Agency, which is a consulting agency focused on marketing, lifestyle and hospitality. We have clients across different industries. We’re doing everything from very specific hospitality-focused operational strategies to marketing.
ILM+E: Do these projects inform the work that you do at The Underground and vice versa?
AG: Yes, definitely. There are a lot of new trends and behavioral things I’ve seen happening on both the agency and highend luxury experiential sides of the business that have really brought new clarity and focus to the things that we’re doing at The Underground.
ILM+E: You’ve clearly got a lot going on—how do you stay organized and productive?
AG: For me, it’s having my calendar very strictly organized and making sure I’m tackling the things that I find real value in and that will have the highest impact. Each night, I establish the goals for the upcoming day. If I can get beyond the goals for the upcoming day, I’ll move onto the upcoming week, and if I get through the upcoming week, I’ll get into the upcoming month. I’m also up roughly at 4:30 a.m. most days.
ILM+E: What is your favorite kind of experience to create?
AG: That’s so hard to answer. I really find a lot of enjoyment across the board. It can be as simple as producing a birthday event for a client or as crazy as doing an international trip on a private plane that’s at the absolute highest level of luxury. Oftentimes, it’s the littlest things. As long as people are smiling, I’m smiling.