“Don’t Party Too Much” 5 Insider Tips With Vegas Hospitality Veterans Ryan Labbe + Jason “JRoc” Craig

“AND don’t party too much.. it’s a necessity in this business, but can also be an anchor that weighs you down from reaching full potential. There are a lot of temptations and you need to have a strong head and focused mind to concentrate on the success of your operation. Always be aware of what is going on around you and in your venues, even when you are entertaining and being social.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vegas hospitality veterans Ryan Labbe + Jason “JRoc” Craig. Ryan and Jason individually dominated the Vegas scene for years, nonetheless the two decided to make a power move by joining forces in 2012 to form the 81/82 group. In addition to 81/82 group’s nightlife expertise, the firm dabbled in brand launches, cross market partnerships and even into the culinary scene. From initial launches to helping curate brands such as 50 Bleu Premium Vodka to opening Lucky Foos, an off-Strip Las Vegas Restaurant & Bar the duo had their hands in a little bit of everything hospitality related. As the two emerged as Vegas’ hospitality heavy hitters, it only made sense that not only bigger brands would want to collaborate with the duo but even bigger names. In 2015, Labbe & Craig partnered with hospitality mastermind Andy Masi, founder of Clique Hospitality, for what would be their first of many huge projects in Las Vegas. Fast forward to 2018, and the power trio of Masi, Craig and Labbe are working on simultaneous projects, Apex Social Club which is taking over the infamous Ghostbar space on the rooftop of the Palms Casino Resort.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

Well to start Ryan and I have both in nightlife in different capacities and numerous positions for over 12 years. We formed our company 8182group in 2012.

Can you share the funniest of most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?

There’s definitely a lot of those and most we cannot share. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We like to think we impact the lives of people who work for us or with us in some way. We love to give opportunity to those who deserve it, and those trying to break into the business. At one point in our careers we needed doors opened for us and to be in the position to help others in this sense definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment. We love mentoring and giving advice to those starting out. We also love opening new venues and properties, as we are able to give so many people jobs each time we do. We also enjoy the experience we create for our patrons and customers. We want them to enjoy their time in our venues, celebrate their occasion with friends and have incredible, flawless evenings. That is what the hospitality business is about. It is very rewarding to know that someone’s birthday, bachelor party, date night or vacation was incredible because of the experience we created for them.

If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?

Stay focused on what it is you want to do, and hire an assistant as soon as you can afford to. Delegating to someone you can trust is key, as there is a lot to balance in the hospitality world.

AND don’t party too much.. it’s a necessity in this business, but can also be an anchor that weighs you down from reaching full potential. There are a lot of temptations and you need to have a strong head and focused mind to concentrate on the success of your operation. Always be aware of what is going on around you and in your venues, even when you are entertaining and being social.

So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?

The PALMS Casino Resort project is definitely the most exciting project at this moment, and it’s right in front of us with our venues APEX Social Club and Camden Cocktail lounge soon to open. The Fertittas vision for the property is definitely inspiring and an incredible concept sure to bring new life to the staple Vegas property. Bringing the Palms to the forefront in this new era is surely going to be a task, but we have all the right wheels in motion, the right concepts, and the right team in place. Additionally, we both have a strong love for the property and are super passionate about the success of these new venues, and the overall hotel relaunch..

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

1. Save your money — it comes and goes fast in this business . As you earn profit, definitely put some asides. You obviously have to spend money to make money, but saving along the way is key.

2. Make sure your bookkeeping is in order and organized, and all taxes are properly handled.

3. Failure is a part of business and life. Remember that not every project, event, venue etc. will be a success, but if you can learn and grow from it, it’s all a learning experience.

4. Work with people you can trust. We have been able to count on each other over the years and trust each other’s decisions which has enabled us to grow and expand our business to where it is now. You cannot be everywhere at once, so to have a partner you can lean on is incredible.

5. No one needed to tell me this as we work in hospitality… but, BE NICE. There is no reason to be rude or demeaning to anyone. Everyone deserves to be treated kindly.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)

Jason — Definitely Mark Cuban. I read his book recently on how to win at the sport of business .. and his philosophy on business and approach tactics are definitely something I respect and hope to emulate. I literally relate everything to sports or military, as it’s a structure I know and understand very well. I apply those things in my daily routine.

Ryan- Warrren Buffet is someone I admire in the business world and would love to pick his brain.