David Grutman is an interesting cat. Anyone who knows him on a surface level probably thinks he’s paying surface level attention [to them] given his sporadic side glancing mid-conversation or the way he’s always on his phone. But spend the day with the man, chez Grutman, and you might begin to notice a different side to Dave: he’s got a hand in everything. To give you a quick rundown, Grutman’s got your traditional from the bottom, up kind of story. He started as a bartender and later joined the ranks at Miami’s own Opium Group—a brand probably best known for owning and operating a slew of Miami Beach nightclubs such as Mansion, SET and Mokai—where he ran operations in the early and mid 2000’s. In 2008 things got, as they say, “real” when Grutman opened club LIV in the lobby of Miami Beach’s famed Fontainebleau hotel. (Insert irony: the restaurant in which Grutman bartended, in Aventura mall was also owned by Fontainebleau owner, Jeff Soffer who remains a partner and mentor of Grutman to this day.) Since dubbed the third highest grossing club in the United States, he’s credited with turning LIV into a Midas-caliber gold mine. So at the forefront of everything from marketing to programming is Grutman—otherwise known as Groot, a nickname he shares with his Van Dutch boat and his Nike id sneakers—that Rolling Stone magazine named him the 11th most notable person in Electronic Dance Music in. The. WORLD.
And it’s not just about EDM, LIV on Sunday, his weekly hip-hop party is similarly known on a global scale. To quote Meek Mill’s, “Do LIV on Sunday like a church,” lyrics; the event has truly become a religion for some. Flash-forward to 2013 and Groot kept us dancing ‘til dawn when he expanded his nightlife empire to include Story. At some 27,000 square feet, the stadium-seating style space is equipped for 360-degree views of the talent. Like LIV, the programming at Story is unmatched, and fans come in droves to see the biggest names in music, almost nightly. Surely, the performers are unparalleled and Grutman’s team does a phenomenal job of promoting the impending acts, but people come to see him too.
The self-proclaimed secret agent, no really, check out his social media profiles, has some 42k followers on the twitterverse and another 105k on Instagram. He’s a verified user on both platforms (@davegrutman) and openly doesn’t take kindly to those who include underscores in their handles, FYI. His posts often include the celeb-types who frequent his home as well as the classic vintage t-shirts which he collects for their humorous recounts of days gone by: A recent post during our photo shoot with a tee donning a photo from the 1995 American romantic drama film directed by Forest Whitaker, Waiting to Exhale, got 817 likes and an emphatic, “Yes!” first comment by none other than Ryan Phillipe who recently celebrated his engagement at LIV.
And on the subject of engagements, this Don Juan is off the market. Some 4 months ago he popped the question to model girlfriend Isabela Rangel, who is signed with Wilhelmina in Miami and enjoys other representation globally, in what some might call an “over the top” fashion. An entire wall in Miami’s Wynwood Art District was dedicated to the mural that begged the question: “Isabela, will you marry me?” followed by yes and no boxes to be ticked accordingly and a full-length portrait of the beauty for all to see. The mural, which was brought to life by Bolivian-born street artist, Herbert Galarza, played the perfect backdrop for the now-gone-viral video of her accepting the beautiful Anita Ko diamond ring Grutman offered her on one knee. And while the impending nuptials are in full planning swing, Grutman shows no sign of slowing down on the work front. “My goal is to bring our trademark lifestyle brand to every corner of the world,” he says.
This year he’s unleashed his latest dragon by way of Komodo. The upscale, three-story restaurant represents a lot of firsts for this man-about-town including a first foray into the world of owning and operating a dining establishment as well as a first Neil Armstrong-lengthed leap, “over the bridge” and on to Miami’s main land, also known as Brickell—a burgeoning metropolis where the upwardly mobile stay, eat and play in increasing numbers. A partnership with restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow, of China Grill fame, Komodo offers Southeast Asian cuisine with elements of the South Florida entertainment scene that Grutman has redefined in this decade. Similarly, the space is beautifully designed to lure you in and make you want to stay with unique design elements incorporated through heightened taste. The indoor/outdoor eatery overlooks an ICrave-designed garden oasis as well as the lights of Brickell Avenue and on those beautiful Miami nights when the stars beg for you to dine amongst them, there are five exterior floating Dedon-designed nests meant to replicate the experience of the [Komodo] dragon’s first sign of light.
Like all Grutman-type success stories he’s got something next in the hopper—always working to reinvent and drive industry decidedly forward. And while we humbly wait for this puppeteer of the night to pull on our heart strings once again, we do know that whatever it is [he does next], he wants to do projects that he’s never done before and that are scary, because as he says:
“that fear is what really drives me. It’s not all rainbow and hoes.”