Nearly 400 students arrived early at the Biscayne Bay campus for what you might have thought was a new sneaker outing or the opening of a new nightclub. It was the first day of FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s most popular class – The David Grutman Experience: The Class, taught by famed Miami restaurateur and nightlife entrepreneur David Grutman.
The excitement started when students checked in and received a bag full of exclusive merchandise and merchandise, including a branded class shirt made by renowned streetwear designer Warren Lotas.
Once inside, dim lights, music and a trendy video set the mood, followed by a warm and very enthusiastic welcome from FIU Dean of Hospitality, Michael Cheng.
Once onstage, Grutman shared his class goals: to “inspire” students to get into the hospitality industry, “boost” their entrepreneurial spirit, and help them “apply” the tools to anything. they choose to do.
Then he shared his own journey. Grutman began his hospitality career as a bartender at a restaurant in the Aventura Mall. As he rose through the ranks, he said one of the most important lessons he learned in the business world was the importance of building your network, which can happen while you’re still in school. .
“The way you keep growing and growing your network is by connecting people and stepping back,” Grutman said.
Grutman is the owner of Groot Hospitality, which owns restaurants Komodo, Papi Steak, Swan, The Key Club, Gekkō and Strawberry Moon. His businesses also include the LIV nightclubs in Fontainebleau and Story, and The Goodtime Hotel on South Beach. LIV has been around for 14 years, which Grutman says are “dog years” in the nightlife business. His hotel group is worth millions and continues to grow. He shared with the students his next ventures, which include a resort and out-of-this-world plans to be the first hotel group to have a restaurant in space.
This is the third time he has taught the course at FIU Hospitality. The last time was in March 2021 when the class had to be socially distanced due to the pandemic. Now the inscription is triple the size.
What is his secret to success? He credits his team, which he brought with him to class. The entire group, from the executive chef to the legendary club promoter Purple Miami, rose to say hello.
Her other secret to living the dream? “I love what I do. I wake up, I go to sleep thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow, and I wake up excited in the morning to do it. Let me say it again, I love what I do. Let me repeat myself, you gotta love what you do,” Grutman said.
For about an hour and a half, Grutman spoke with the students and conducted a Q&A (question and answer) session. Then, he made a surprise announcement and welcomed his friend and Grammy Award-winning artist DJ Khaled to the stage.
DJ Khaled told the students he remembered being in their shoes when he started and offered this advice: “I promise you…you stay focused on this path and I will promise you… .you will get everything you work hard for. I am living proof.
After Grutman and DJ Khaled talked about their families and the ups and downs of life, another surprise guest took the stage, the former 90s Bad Boys rapper and now candidate for Prime Minister of Belize , Moses Barrow, aka Shyne.
Throughout the night, the students cheered enthusiastically, while taking photos and videos. Emotions in the room spilled over onto social media with posts like, “I had to hold back my tears tonight. Tonight was iconic! said @gemarinok and “Thank you for this amazing opportunity to learn from the best!” says @komi.lya.
Three hours and hundreds of reposts later, the class consensus seems to be “Looking forward to the next lesson” – said @moroojhamed.