Looking for a place to shed your 9-to-5 self and let your fun, alter-ego strut their stuff? Jason Odio and Marcelo Medina’s nightclub La Otra might be the perfect place to unleash that other self, let go of stress, worry, and fear and simply have some much deserved fun. Jason Odio and Marcelo Medina are arguably two of Miami’s most influential entrepreneurs and they are shaking up Wynwood’s nightlife with an elevated nightclub experience. The Miami-industry based leaders’s latest venture offers delicious craft cocktails, unbeatable vibes, and gorgeous aesthetics that are sure to complement and entice both new and loyal clubbers. With its two incredible, seasoned leaders at the helm, La Otra also sets the tone for the exciting evolution of Miami’s immensely entertaining nightlife.
How did Jason get into the hospitality industry? What drew Marcelo to the industry?
Jason: I got into hospitality from being around it at a young age. My father’s core business was commercial construction. He was very social which led him to building most of the nightclubs and high end restaurants on South Beach in the 90’s and early 2000’s. That led him to owning a few different concepts himself. From there, I started working for Roman Jones who was a close family friend while I was in high school. In 2014, I decided to try my hand at my own hospitality venture and opened Sidebar.
Marcelo: From a young age, I was always drawn to throwing parties and bringing people together. I started hosting high school parties with my friends and DJing at different events…Those days are long gone. I then began our promotions company, MAGMIAMI and started throwing the best Latin parties in Miami which are still in effect today.
How did these two awesome masterminds join forces?
J: Funny enough, we’ve both worked in this industry for a long time and have a lot of mutual friends. Yet, we never met until another industry veteran, Aramis Lorie, introduced us when we were making decisions on the future of Sidebar.
M: We instantly clicked and La Otra was born.
According to Jason and Marcelo, what is the recipe for a successful partnership? Or, put differently, how does each person complement the other to enrich their business ventures?
Jason: I think the recipe for any successful relationship, business or personal, is communication and respect. Luckily for us, we have plenty of both. We are also very complementary to each other when it comes to our respective worlds and our strengths in business.
Marcelo: Respect and loyalty to each other and to what you’re building, understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working as a team, hyping each other up and constantly supporting one another.
Jason, you have several hospitality ventures. What inspires you to take on a new project? What do your ventures have in common? How are they unique? What are you most proud of when it comes to the impact you are having on Miami’s hospitality industry? What challenges have you faced?
I think everything I’ve been a part of has been unique. However, they all have the same core value of adding something good to the Miami hospitality landscape. I’m proud to be from Miami and a part of its growth, especially in hospitality. I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is being naive when giving people an opportunity and also navigating personalities/egos that fuel a big part of our business.
Marcelo, you built La Otra with your family. What was that experience like? What did you learn about the business by making your loved ones a part of it?
We have always worked together and have multiple ventures together. The biggest challenge is not taking things personally and being highly aware that our interests are in the same place. Being impartial and open to new ideas makes things flow a lot faster. There’s also an inferred trust in doing things which takes a lot of the stress away. We respect each other as individuals and we all thrive in very different areas which eventually all complement each other. I also saw another side of the industry because their perspectives brought new and fresh ideas to the way I managed things by myself and, of course, this was such a big addition to the dynamic.
You both have your hearts based in family which is a beautiful value and characteristic to impart on your community. How are your businesses like families themselves? How does your appreciation for family relate to your treatment of those around you in the business and beyond?
J: Like I mentioned before, we believe this is one of the more important parts of our business. We love to see our family grow, learn and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Historically, especially in nightlife, there wasn’t much hospitality. Staff was treated poorly and constantly yelled at or belittled. Guests were treated poorly and almost had to beg to get a door person’s attention or wait forever to get a bartender’s attention. We’ve been on the receiving end of this, and we have made it our goal to make sure no one undergoes any of those experiences at La Otra.
M: The core of our business is family and we certainly work in an ambience of closeness and total confidence. I think this kind of partnership brings out the best of us and it’s so important to us. Not only because it’s our job, but also because this vibe is fully transmitted to the club, which translates directly into our parties and the guests who frequent them.
As two of Miami’s most inspirational entrepreneurs, it’s significant to ask: who inspires you? What inspires you? What prompts you to move from the inspiration phase to the creative/ entrepreneurial phase? Discuss your process.
We believe in getting excited about the possibilities. Seeing a space come to life while it’s a blank canvas. How is the neighborhood going to react? How do we complement it? Envisioning our friends who inspire us and how they would receive it. The music playing, the warm spot lights dimmed just right over every table, the reaction after trying our food or drinks. Once we wrap our heads around that, it’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Like other things, we want it to be unique. I don’t think there’s an exact formula to the process, more of a feeling of how we’re going to achieve what we want. We reset completely when starting a new concept and think of how much fun people will have, we think of every detail.
What’s the key to evolving with Miami’s nightlife and keeping up with its many changes and developments? How do you keep your finger on the pulse of SoFlo culture?
J: Miami is changing, undoubtedly, and Marcelo does a great job of mentoring the next wave of nightlife entrepreneurs. We do our best to stay active visiting other venues, events, parties, etc. We also enjoy traveling when we can and that helps us to understand what other cities are doing well and how we can implement that in our businesses.
Each location has a personality that you two obviously know how to introduce to your audiences and attendees. What goes into the process of attracting a diverse clientele while also respecting, honoring, and taking advantage of the location/ event space?
Like we mentioned previously, we both come from different worlds, even though they overlap a lot of times, which makes our crowd unique and complimentary. Even though Miami is predominantly Latin, we have guests that have lived here all their lives and never been to a “Latin club” but enjoy and frequent La Otra. Our range of programming helps bring diversity but they keep the same intention of a quality experience.
What inspired La Otra’s name, aesthetic, and overall vibe?
J: I think we were inspired differently by the name. Personally, I loved it because it wasn’t Sidebar anymore it was, the other club. I kept it light hearted and not so serious.
M: In my opinion, La Otra is not the side chick everyone talks about, but rather the playful girl that comes to our club, leaving all the stress behind and bringing up the highest version of ourselves, kind of like an alter-ego.
What sets La Otra apart from other bars/ nightclubs in Wynwood? How does it fit into the fabric of one of Miami’s most “happening” districts?
One of the first things that sets it apart is that we are able to stay open until 5 am, while the rest of Wynwood closes at 3 am. Most of the other bars in Wynwood have a more casual approach and we went for a place that would have typically been seen on South Beach twenty years ago. We like to see our guests wear their best outfits for a Saturday night of dancing. We believe that Wynwood has something to offer to a broad range of people, and that’s what makes it so attractive.
You have both a beautiful bar and a thrilling nightclub. To what extent have you considered people’s desire to get up, dance, and mingle as well as enjoy a craft cocktail in an intimate space? How does this “best of both worlds” element relate to the evolution of nightlife?
La Otra has both a large outdoor and indoor space, and we want people to feel welcomed even if they’re the first ones there to take advantage of one of our craft cocktails. No one likes to be the first person at the club but we’ve created inviting nooks with plenty of foliage and warm textures to make people feel comfortable. Those same benches that you can lounge on you’ll eventually stand on and dance your heart out. Nightclubs have evolved a lot from the days of “smoke & mirrors”. People aren’t fooled anymore. They are looking for value. We provide value by giving good service and a welcoming attitude. We are focused and proud to be a club and in the other case a bar, and we strive for bringing the best of each experience without trying to be something we are not.
Discuss what folks have to look forward to at La Otra. What cocktails, menu items, and events should people expect?
M: Expect the best quality cocktails with top notch garnishes and very warm customer service, we are big on Tequila and Mezcal and they should definitely try Jason’s Mezcal SACRVM.