Addison Hospitality Group owner Ric Addison began a career in hospitality well over two decades ago. Originally from Ireland, Ric got his start in New York hospitality working alongside nightlife legends like Ian Schrager and Rande Gerber. The first notable establishment of his own was the AVA Lounge at the Dream Hotel, which he opened in 2002; New York Magazine would go on to name it “Best After Work Drink” spot in a Best Of New York issue. Further acclaim would come quickly from other establishments of Ric’s, like the Inc Lounge at The Time Hotel — which once hosted Lady Gaga and Madonna in its VIP “Pool Room” — and THE BAR at the Dream Hotel.
Four years ago in 2013, Ric opened the Monarch Rooftop & Indoor Lounge. Located 18 floors above Herald Square, the beautifully-decorated Monarch was designed by Natalie Todorova of Gene Kaufman Architects. Beyond its signature cocktails, Monarch offers an immaculate view of the Empire State Building and other parts of Midtown. Not just ideal for a summer visit, Monarch uses heat lamps when necessary, welcoming evening visitors to experience its Scandinavian-style décor throughout the year.
Downtown spoke with Ric in December 2016 to learn more about Monarch and other Addison Hospitality Group establishments. More info can be found at www.addisongroupnyc.com, while Monarch itself can be followed on social media via accounts on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
You are the owner of the Addison Hospitality Group. What inspired you to start your own hospitality group?
Ric Addison: My background in hospitality dates back from my roots in Ireland. My entire family has been in the hospitality business in some way or another. My father was the manager at an Executive social club in Ireland. When I came to the United States, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in hospitality. I worked my way up all the way from a barback, learning from the likes of the venerable Ian Schrager and Rande Gerber. I knew from then on that I wanted to bring a level of hospitality that the New York elites expect, but make it available to everyone.
What is a typical day for you like as the owner of a hospitality group?
RA: There is no typical day and never a humdrum moment. Everything is constantly changing at a rapid pace, and that is part of the reason why I love it. From finding and transforming new spaces into nightlife destinations, working with my team to develop ideas, and just meeting new customers, I consider myself fortunate to enjoy going to work every day.
You are known for sophisticated rooftop bars. What draws you to the rooftop bar concept?
RA: I think I truly found my niche with rooftop bars when I opened the AVA Lounge at the Dream Hotel. I noticed that Midtown professionals wanted a respite from the bustling city after a hard day’s work and AVA was a getaway in the middle of Manhattan.
The AVA Lounge at the Dream Hotel is reportedly the establishment that put you on the map. Where had you worked before then?
RA: Gerber Group bars with Randy Gerber, Ian Schrager at The Paramount Hotel, and every major nightclub in the 80s and 90s. I started as a manager at the Whiskey Bar and rose to Director of Operations for the Gerber Group.
What can you tell me about your two newest venues, Magnolia Restaurant and Lovage Rooftop & Indoor Lounge?
RA: I am proud to be opening Magnolia Restaurant and Lovage Rooftop & Indoor Lounge in 2017. Magnolia will be the first restaurant addition to the Addison Hospitality Group portfolio. It was designed to be elegant, but comfortable; a place that you want to visit because of its quality food at an affordable price. Lovage is a continuation of our beloved AVA Lounge, which recently closed. Loyal patrons of AVA will notice a lot of the same design elements in Lovage. We invite guests of all ages to visit, from ages 21 to 91. We think there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Do you have a favorite item served by Magnolia? What about Lovage?
RA: At Magnolia, the Deviled Duck Eggs with maple horseradish, mustard, a touch of cayenne pepper, and crispy bacon bits. At Lovage, I love to sip on our Hell’s Kitchen take on a Bloody Mary. We call it the Mahola Cocktail, with Smoky Mezcal, Roasted Tomatillos, Wasabi, Fresh Lemon and a Sweet Paprika and Sesame Salt Rim that will wake you right up.
Any special events coming up at any of your establishments? Holiday specials?
RA: Yes, Magnolia and Lovage are booking up quickly for Fashion Week in February, along with a Valentine’s Day party at Lovage. Things will really heat up at Lovage when the warm weather arrives this spring and patrons can take advantage of the warm temperatures in New York City.
It’s been said that the Addison Hospitality Group aims to provide “white glove service without the white gloves.” Is there a particular entrepreneur that inspired that philosophy?
RA: I wanted to show people elegant service without being confined to the parameters of the Meatpacking District. Every guest is equally important to me. No particular entrepreneur inspired that philosophy in me, but myself. However, I do view Richard Branson as an inspiration of business.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
RA: I always enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter, sailing and golfing.
Other than your own, do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
RA: Chinese Tuxedo, which recently opened in Chinatown.
Finally, Ric, any last words for the kids?
RA: Always apply yourself and the world is yours. Anything is possible. Never compromise your happiness.