HOW TWO FORT LAUDERDALE ENTREPRENEURS STRUCK GOLD BY HAVING FUN.
By A.J. Yaari
When my partner Lior Avidor and I opened Exit 66 in the spring of 2009, no one expected the 30,000 square foot nightclub, located in the heart of Fort Lauderdale Beach, to become one of the areas most sought after venues to host special events.
Fast forward one year later, and with a calendar filling up with Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to corporate events and milestone celebrations, we made the bold move to convert the space from a thriving weekend dance club to a year-round private-events rental venue. Since then, and after going through an interior expansion and exterior makeover, we are still hard-pressed to believe it was not the original intention. It was a risk, no doubt, but our positive energy paid off even better than we expected.
Our Director of Special Events, Christina Torrey once told me, “The first time I visited the venue with all the lights spinning and music pumping my jaw just dropped.” This reaction was exactly what we were looking to get from everyone. I have not heard of a client showing to date that does not come away with the same reaction. It’s just such a fun environment you can’t help but smile and become enthralled with the surroundings. I will happily share with you how this “environment” came to be.
We first considered flexibly as an essential element, which is why we created five unique, flexible spaces both under air and under the stars, so that those seeking to put the “special” in their event could find a suitable space to achieve it. Then we envisioned a theme we were positive everyone in this great country would identify with, no matter their background. That’s why upon entering the Main Club at Exit 66, which spans over three levels with an eye-popping color-scheme celebrating American pop-culture, every turn features subtle and not-so-subtle inspiration from the venue’s namesake—Route 66. From the screen-printed plywood wall of icons Elvis Presley and James Dean to the wall of truck mirrors to the graphic montage of American icons, think vagabond chic meets mega-watt Las Vegas and you will start to get the picture. Then we threw in a multi-sensory, state-of-the-art sound system, LED monitors and programmable lighting.
These features are included with every rental venue and believe me, even in serious corporate luncheons, I’ve seen them using not only our clear-sounding sound system, but even the programmable lights. I guess there’s nothing like a strobe light to “lighten up” an important speech.
We are fans of vintage too, so for the lower club level, which can accommodate 600 people for cocktail events, we put in plush sofas, which resemble 1950’s style bench car seats, and an epoxy bar-top filled with “road-trip” memorabilia and maps. That’s been quite the hit. The space can also configure for theater-style presentation or rock n’ roll style wedding ceremonies, on the elevated central stage, large enough for the most elaborate chuppa, and when I say elaborate, it’s really an understatement to some of the chuppas I’ve seen put up there.
Then up a flight of stairs, or via the passenger elevator, we put a retro-style Motel Lobby lounge. The scene is fantastic. Neon lights, flashing vacancy sign and a wall of doors leading to nowhere add to the kitschy environment. However, this lounge and its vintage feel is in stark contrast to the Beach House Lounge and Ocean Terrace that we put behind an adjacent wall of curtain draped doors.
In other words, for us flexibility also meant variety, that’s why the various room styles allow guests to go from their Mitzvah or wedding ceremony on the Terrace or Beach House lounge, down a flight of stairs to a completely different look and rock-star party atmosphere to celebrate their special day with family and friends. We like to say at Exit 66 you can “Party like a rock star”, but there’s a small detail: rock stars get real rock star treatment. So an all-important element to add was service, and that’s why we hired what we call our super-star staff, to insure that every guests feels like a real rock star by the end of their event.
I am grateful to the people at Jewish Way for inviting me to share with you our success story and business perspective, but I would also love to share the actual place, so feel free to visit us if you need to host an event, and if you don’t, I surely hope you get invited to one. You’ll have a wonderful time!
Exit 66 is located at 219 S, Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The venue is available for rent in part or in its entirety based on the number of guests and event style structure (flexibility…remember). In- house catering is provided by sister properties which include, Spazio Italian Restaurant to Sangrias Mexican Sangrias Mexican Cantina, and soon-to-open Asian-inspired eatery Tsukuro. Anyway, if you have your own caterers, they are absolutely welcome.
We hope to see you soon!
EXIT 66To schedule a showing call (954) 357-9981 or visit www.Exit66FL.com 219 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard. Fort Lauderdale, FL