Soaking in the panorama of Manhattan from a roof-deck on the 38th floor of the Renaissance NY Chelsea Hotel in NYC, Sameer Qureshi and business partner Nathan Leong were a little confused.
Peering down from the tallest building in the business-and-art district of West Chelsea, they felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland looking down the rabbit hole.
What they had was a newly leased 5,500 square foot space 39th floor roof-deck with large swimming pool. And on the floor below, a large interior space for nigthclub & bar. But no name!
“What should we call it?” asked Sameer, as the pair continued to study their new environment. That was when Nathan looked up at the sky, and took in the dizzying 360-degree view of New York City and said, “It’s like we’re somewhere in the middle of nowhere.”
And as soon as the words left Nathan’s lips, Sameer exclaimed, “That’s it! We are Somewhere Nowhere.”
And thus began their journey transforming an empty interior space into a magical hot-spot with a nightclub where light reflects and refracts against a blown-in mist. And where fashionable patrons dance and celebrate amidst a decor inspired after the story of Alice in Wonderland.
“Alice in Wonderland was an inspiration, but so was a proper-looking Jackie O,” Sameer says. “We’ve created an experience so exciting that people just want to grab their phones and take pictures.”
Six years in the making, the concept was set to open in April 2020 before the pandemic delayed the grand opening to July 2021. The delay turned out to be a lucky break, Sameer says. The time and trend toward outdoor dining inspired the pair to design and equip the rooftop with custom-built, teardrop shaped pods; each with its own fireplace.
And while the development is always a work in progress, the pair are enjoying a magical first year and working hard to maintain an otherworldly experience for all who venture in.
In this week’s Q&A interview with Boxerbrand’s blog Recipe for Success, Sameer Qureshi tells us what it’s like to run a new “it” destination in NYC of today.
Boxerbrand: How did you create outdoor dining pods that could withstand wind and cold of winter in NYC?
Sameer: With covid, and everybody wanting to sit outdoors, we new if we could create pods strong enough to withstand high wind, and warm, that we could create an experience that would entice people in. We chose custom-built teardrop shaped pods made from industrial steel. They’re really substantial, and their igloo shape allows the wind to pass right over them. Inside, each one has its own fireplaces to warm customers as they enjoy cocktails, light bites, and views of the city.
Boxerbrand: You have received rave reviews in such publications as Gotham and Page Six, and many others. How did you get your name out there?
Sameer: I was a promoter at a marketing company for 20 years, and I used to program food and beverage for other rooftop concepts. At some point along the way I realized I was really good at making places busy, and making money. Years before we opened, I started building an Instagram presence for Somewhere Nowhere. We tried to be very creative about building up expectations, so, by the time we opened, our mindset wasn’t in how we compete with others, but how we would create an experience for our guests that delivered on all the build up.
Boxerbrand: Your outdoor dining scene with heated pods and swimming pool is sublime. How did you pull that magic into the interior dance club?
Sameer: Our nightclub is an experience of all your senses. Visually, it’s a place where you can get lost. And we’re very proud of our musical talent. We feature DJs from around the world who have their own following. I’ll describe our sound as forward-thinking European sound, which encompasses sounds of (Deep House). The experience is both magical and European forward, but it is also very tactile.
Boxerbrand: Please tell me how Boxerbrand menu covers were incorporated into the scene?
Sameer: By the time we finally opened, everyone had moved away from menu covers and were temporarily using QR codes, due to covid concerns. From a hospitality standpoint, that just sucks. People are paying hundreds of dollars for an experience when they come here, and after sitting them at a table, to have to tell them, “OK, here’s the QR code— good luck!” Well, this wasn’t am image we wanted to project. The menu cover product we bought was purchased because the color and texture worked so well with our lighting and decor. We were so happy with them, that we went back and bought more! — Somewhere Nowhere, described by Gotham as a secret-garden oasis, uses Boxerbrand’s Metallic tones brushed gold and brushed blush in its table presentation. Thank you!