Your Best Nights Begin Here
Tour Atlanta with Mitul Patel
The Best Nights section will take you on a local’s tour through the eyes and personal experiences of artists, photographers, bloggers, musicians, etc., showcased in a different city every month. In the month of October, we tour Atlanta, GA, with Mitul Patel and he shows us how to have the best nights of our lives in his beautiful city.
Please scroll down to meet and take a tour with Mitul Patel.
Tour of Atlanta, GA with
Mitul, thank you for joining us for the Atlanta edition of Behind the Shot. You’ve spent most of your life in Georgia and went to college at GA state. You had some service industry experience while in college. What led you to pursue the hospitality industry versus pursuing another career after school?
I guess the hospitality aspect started when barbacking while in school. I knew from l the office job wasn’t for me, and I was unsure of my future. I knew I liked throwing events from doing it at college parties. When I eventually started bartending, the money was better than a full-time job. I spent a decade bartending, and between those guests and friends from school, I realized I started bringing a good bit of people to the nights I bartended. I guess unknowingly, I found a way to combine it all into a career.
You transitioned from a local nightlife promoter to large-scale events nationally and internationally. Can you tell us about that journey?
Honestly, the job is quite similar, just magnified into more responsibilities. I think when people hear the title “promoter”, it gets a negative connotation, but promoting an event is only part of the job-if you take it seriously. Making genuine connections and caring about being a good host really brought me further. The progression for me happened naturally from meeting more and more people and the events getting larger and larger. These major events always started out as an idea and grew from there. I worked with great people along the way that taught me more than I could have hoped for. I have to say I never thought I was going international.
You specialize in hospitality and bottle service. As someone who lives in Las Vegas, I know there is so much more to bottle/table service than just popping bottles. It’s much more than opening a bottle and dropping a bucket of ice and some mixers. Can you talk about what makes bottle service unique and/or special?
The relationship with clients and understanding their reason for wanting to elevate their evening is the key. Everyone has a different reason for wanting bottle service, and once you understand each client's needs, the hospitality of the job kicks in. If you continue to repeatedly exceed their expectations, these clients start to feel at home. That is the goal on my end. Whether the guest wants some privacy on a date enjoying their favorite artist, a customer wants to impress a client with some champagne and high-level service, or rage with their best friends for their memorable night out. It is more of a curation of how you want your evening to unfold.
What are some details and experiences often overlooked in bottle service?
Staffing appropriately to have a high level of service. A guest should never feel unattended. VIP clients also like expedited entry and private bathrooms; no one likes shelling out a bunch of money to stand in line. Bottle service delivery presentations have also become next level, where the staff will ride on shoulders carrying bottles and sparklers to the table. I have even seen waitresses ride in boats and customers allowed to shoot confetti cannons or CO2 guns. The best way to summarize it is to make it an engaging and interactive experience.
As mentioned, you’re involved in the festival circuit nationally and internationally. How has the “festival” evolved or changed over the years since your beginning? How has Covid and other recent events with large-scale gathering affected the circuit?
The show or production value of festivals is amplified to amazing heights. Therefore, the Fan Experience for top-tier festivals is next level and always evolving. Larger teams that specialize in organization and execution are needed to maintain this experience. This “wow” level of experience is now an expectation that becomes increasingly more expensive. However, the appetite remains, and they continue to sell out. Not every festival organizer can weather this type of market. You have to think about experiential, immersive experiences, how long the wait at the bar will be, the overall safety of the guests, and even down to the bathroom experience.
In a post covid world where we crave connection to people, there is somewhat of a festival boom right now, as most are celebrating 2022 as their first year back since 2019. I proudly worked on Baja Beach Fest as one of the first festivals back in August 2021. Developing, instituting, and enforcing previously nonexistent pandemic-related protocols was a challenge in 2021, including social distancing, masks, and testing. Now people are ready for people-to-people connections with strangers, friends, and whoever is down for a good time.
Atlanta has a rich nightlife, culture, and history, as well as being a destination city in the southeast. The ATL is also a big little city. Can you tell us more about the nightlife of your city and its history and diversity? What are some key areas to visit for nightlife and hospitality?
Atlanta has a deep history with live music and is the Hip Hop capital. Outkast, Lil Baby, and T.I. are all out of ATL. But it really is the entertainment capital of the South. You can always find something to do in Atlanta. Whether you want to go to the club and eat wings, get dressed up for a fancier night out in Buckhead or Inman Park, or see a local artist in little five points or east Atlanta, each neighborhood has a different vibe. I like that I can pick a neighborhood, depending on my mood, and go from there. One of my favorites is the beltline, which transformed the city, making it walkable from neighborhood to neighborhood. The Beltline is a running/ biking trail that was made on former train tracks. Atlanta was previously known as Terminus, the end of the western and Atlantic railroad lines. These tracks are long gone but are now once again the heartbeat of the city. It connects the diversity from the west end to Inman Park, Pouncey highlands, and many more neighborhoods. Most people come into ATL and stay downtown and don’t see the different neighborhoods that make it what it is, and it is a real shame.
Atlanta has some great music venues. What are some great rooms to catch a show?
The Tabernacle and the Roxy are some of the best music venues in the Southeast. The Buckhead Theater, Terminal West, Lakewood Amphitheater, and the Eastern are some of the best Live Music Venues in Atlanta. I could also never forget the Fabulous Fox Theatre- a true classic. Almost too many to list; it really depends on the artist and size of the show you are looking for.
You also are known for your block parties. Can you tell us about those and how they came about?
The Block Parties started initially because we needed more space to put guests. As we started putting the pieces of the event together, we realized there were not many outdoor venues in ATL, and we could create something special. We could gather more people in a non-traditional setting like a parking lot, most importantly safely together, and deliver a product that was truly unique. The headlining artists would showcase their record labels and give an opportunity for patrons to experience various artists. It is almost like a mini festival, and that is what it evolved into. We have a few big ones coming up this fall in Atlanta!
Your block parties also bring together all areas of the hospitality industry. How is this as far as networking, learning, and growing together as well as growing your city and culture?
We were able to get creative collaborating with mixologists, visual artists, brand partners, and even culinary artists through the many different outdoor events year after year.
We would bring together local food truck vendors, along with some great mixologists in the city that don’t normally work in a nightclub setting to work these pop-up events. It shows the sense of community in Atlanta. You can be a food artist, music artist, or drink artist, all creatives are welcome to bring together the right vibe, music, and crowd. And all of us from different backgrounds professionally learn something from one another in the process. To me, that is ATL. The ecosystem of the city is much larger than me or any one person. Cheers to all my friends and co-workers, who all put long hours and sweat into making this possible.
What is your favorite Jägermeister drink or way to enjoy it?
An ice cold shot in a frozen shot glass
For someone visiting the city of Atlanta and wanting to experience all the best parts of the city but only had a day to do so, what would your best day and night out be? Where would someone look to stay? What neighborhoods to see? Any must-do food or drink, sights to see, or experiences only a local would recommend?
I would 100% stay in an Airbnb on the beltline near Krog street market. The accessibility to everything within walking distance is amazing. A lot of the city's best chefs and restaurateurs have opened on or near the beltline, you can eat and drink your way from one side to the other. Start your day with some true Southern Brunch at Homegrown and go for a stroll to check out all the art by Krog Street Tunnel. Some of my favorite restaurants within walking distance for dinner are Char Korean BBQ, MF Sushi and Boccalupo (Italian). You could then walk over to Little Spirit for a nightcap or check out the famous Magic City. Some people go there just for the wings. Either way, if you don’t get enough cocktails in you to end up at Waffle House, you are doing it wrong.