Industry Insiders: David Rabin, Johnny Swet, & Larry Poston of Jimmy at the James

When you ask three nightlife veterans to transform the top of one of New York’s most fashionable new hotels into an intimate lounge, the result is bound to be exciting. But with the opening of Jimmy at The James hotel in Soho, David Rabin (center), Johnny Swet (left), and Larry Poston (right) have created nothing less than an 18th-floor paradise, with original art on the walls, creative cocktails on the menu, and breathtaking views of lower Manhattan from every seat in the house.

Jimmy is the latest in a string of successful nightspots for Rabin, who left a career as a lawyer to open Rex in 1990. Its success quickly led to other endeavors, including the first western-style nightclub in Moscow. (“I still haven’t told my mother half the stories,” Rabin says.) Back in New York, he and his business partner opened now-classic venues Union Bar, Lotus, Double Seven, and the Lambs Club. When approached about Jimmy, Rabin jumped at the chance, provided he could bring along two uniquely creative talents. “I was blown away by what Johnny and Larry created at Hotel Griffou,” Rabin says.

Swet’s introduction to the nightlife industry came just days after moving to New York from Los Angeles, landing a job at the Bowery Bar on the day it opened. “They said, ‘That’s your table,’ and Courtney Love was sitting there. I was like, I think I’m going to like this.” He was soon working with Keith McNally to open restaurants Balthazar and Pastis, and eventually became the general manager of Freemans. But it was the exclusive West Village boîte Hotel Griffou, which he opened with Pastis maître d’ Poston in 2009, that made him a perfect fit for Jimmy.

A native of North Carolina, Poston began his career as an actor in LA, which led to a job as a pool boy at the Chateau Marmont, passing out towels to Julia Roberts and once dropping a full room-service tray in front of André Balazs. He made the move to New York, learning the ropes at Pastis and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn. While it’s not even six months old, JImmy is already looking like a downtown institution, drawing a healthy mix of New Yorkers, hotel guests, and celebrities. The party is even better during the summer, as the outdoor terrace and pool deck let the fun spill out under the stars.

[Photo: Brett Moen]

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