By BOB KECSKEMETY
At the “tender” age of 31, Jason Tamanini, general manager of The Manor Entertainment Complex in Wilton Manors, already has an impressive list of accomplishments. And with ten years of restaurant, nightclub, and bar management under this belt, Tamanini has no intention of slowing down.
A Philadelphia native, Tamanini took accelerated classes in high school, and graduated at the age of 20 from the University of Pittsburgh, with a major in psychology and a minor in business administration. At Pitt, Tamanini became vice president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the international Jewish fraternity; and during his senior year, came out to his fraternity brothers.
“They were very accepting,” he recalls. “I was really nervous and I
ended up coming out to everybody in one day. I just ripped off the
bandage and, thankfully, everybody was accepting. Some of them said
they weren’t surprised and were just waiting for me to say it.”
As a summer job, Tamanini went to work at the Hilton in Key West,
which gave him an opportunity to study their business model as well as
to put his degrees to good use. They could come in handy again when he
moved to the Boca/Delray area to attend FAU, to study for his Master’s.
To earn extra money, Tamanini got a job at Dakota 624, an upscale
steak house and nightclub where he accepted a management position
at the age of 21. While Dakota 624 closed not long after, Tamanini barely
paused to catch his breath, having been introduced to the owner of the
about-to-open China White, a youth-oriented nightclub in downtown
Fort Lauderdale. “It was a learning curve,” admitted Tamanini, “but I
think he was impressed with my work ethic. Some people live to work,
others work to live. I work to live. I enjoy setting a concept, a goal, and
moving forward with it.”
Tamanini believes his own youth at the time had something to do with
getting the general manager’s gig at China White. “I was young. Older
managers bring older habits with them and [the owner] wanted to start
fresh, young, creative, and fun.” Tamanini started at China White in
2002 and remained there until 2006. Essentially a straight club, China
White had a number of successful weekly gay nights.
While still at China White, Tamanini was contacted by the management
of Halo nightclub in Washington, DC., who convinced Tamanini to join
them in opening their Miami Beach location on Lincoln Road in 2007.
Tamanini remained at Halo for two years until October 2009. It was
then that he was contacted by Paul Hugo, The Manor’s co-owner (with
business partner Brett Tannenbaum), and offered the position of general
manager at the soon-to-be-opened entertainment and dining complex.
“I had heard about the project and found it interesting,” remembers
Tamanini. “Rarely does a 16,000 square foot restaurant, bar, and
nightclub open, and I knew it would be an interesting opportunity for
me.” That opportunity has taken him to the present, with The Manor
building an impressive following both from within and outside of Greater
Fort Lauderdale where Tamanini serves on the board of the Rainbow
Business Coalition (RBC) as its co-chair.
Where does Tamanini see himself 15 years from now? He says he
would like to own a venue that he can call his own, as well as have
children—two of them, not for the legacy, but to help him settle down.
“I would like to get them soon,” said Tamanini. “I don’t want to be in
my 70s with two 18 year old kids.”