Nick Jones on 20 years of Soho House New York
In his latest column, our founder takes a trip down memory lane to celebrate two decades of Soho House in the Big Apple
Thursday 7 September 2023 By Soho House Illustration by Jack Richardson
We opened Soho House New York in 2003. It was our first House outside of the UK and, like most of our Houses, we were guided there by our members. With only two locations at the time – 40 Greek Street and Babington House – the move into America felt like a daunting one. But somehow, 20 years later, here we are.
New York is an incredible city, one of the best and brightest in the world, rich in culture and creativity. Much like London, it’s a melting pot of people from all walks of life, which is something I really value. But there was also a huge risk element. There were no guarantees about how we would be received in the US – not many people had heard of Soho House at the time. Plus, a lot of Brits go over to New York and come back with their tail between their legs, which I thought would also happen to me on many occasions.
When we were planning, we initially started searching for a site in Soho. We looked at various places, but nothing felt quite right. Then, we found a warehouse in the Meatpacking District, which back then was very different to what it is today. It was an actual meatpacking district, full of underground clubs and meat warehouses. But the warehouse felt right, so we got permission from the authorities to open a House in the space.
We hosted lots of dinners in the building site as the House was being finished, which are now known as our Hard Hat dinners, where the good and great of New York would turn up. The likes of David Bowie and others would join us, and the atmosphere was always really buzzy. The official opening party was one to remember, too. We still hadn’t put a roof on the building because we ran out of money – and, of course, it started raining. But we had an amazing time and it was a fantastic welcome into the city.
If you told me 20 years ago that we would still be going in New York, with three Houses no less, I would have laughed. Looking back, I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved… but as I always say, we wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of all of you.
Happy 20th birthday, New York.
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