Michael Tronn is a ringmaster for the 21st century, an impresario for the multiverse.
And now, a restaurateur who is bringing high-concept sensory eclecticism to downtown Fort Lauderdale with TIMBR, a long-awaited restaurant and lounge due to open this fall.
A kaleidoscopic creative force, Tronn’s immersive, holistic approach to marketing, launching and staging projects has generated 1,000-plus events and activations in New York, Los Angeles and South Florida. Here, he’s known for his vivifying work with iconic South Beach nightclubs Liquid and Crobar and Ice Palace Film Studios in downtown Miami, as well with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. Also an artist, he’s among the founders of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.
Having risen to notoriety as one of the flamboyant, petulant Club Kids of the ’80-’90s New York nightclub scene, Tronn went on to throw parties for Madonna, helm fashion shows for Gaultier and produce the E! TV series “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills.” He has now set his innovative, experiential sights on a turn-of-the-century building on West Las Olas Boulevard. Its years-in-the-making, multimillion-dollar reincarnation as TIMBR constitutes his 34th launch of a specialty destination property. He calls it his “most elaborate and complex work to date, a masterwork that is the culmination of everything that has led to it.”
And it’s only the first. “There will be more TIMBRs,” he says.
Tronn, who lives in Fort Lauderdale and prefers to state his age as “ageless,” is the creative and marketing chief of 3 Hospitality, the group he shares with partners Paul Brown and Max Van Fleet. He is the kind of promotional visionary whose website boasts that his events have attracted over a million guests, and that the 8,000-square-foot TIMBR “will elevate the hospitality industry, redefine the culinary landscape, and bring high design to Fort Lauderdale.”
Let’s let him tell us about it.
Q: First of all, why Fort Lauderdale?
A: Obviously it’s a city that’s emerging. It’s a new frontier for Southern Florida, as things move a bit north, with Miami being the anchor. It gives us the opportunity to have “the first of its kind,” particularly for this market.
Q: And why that particular location?
A: When golden opportunities present themselves, you have to take that. One of my partners was involved in the venue previously housed at that location, and he just loved it. It also is a really cool venue insofar as it has three separate spaces — two dining rooms and a lounge upstairs. So it enabled us to have three different experiences for our guests that are all tied together, but that are also distinctive. That’s a very unusual offering for a restaurant. Plus, we have incredibly high ceilings, another really cool feature.
Q: What’ll make a diner want to go to TIMBR as opposed to one of the many other restaurants in the area?
A: One of the things that makes TIMBR very special is that it is very high-concept. From our marketing all the way to our offerings of food and drink, and really everything in between is very thoughtfully curated. The design is unique, but it’s also meant to be very warm and inviting. So it’s the combination of the familiar and the innovative that really goes together. So you’ll have what I refer to as an enchanted experience in terms of the environment. And then you will have food that is equally on par.
Q: When you say “familiar,” what are you referring to?
A: For example, our facade is designed to look like a European storefront. There are obviously no European storefronts in Florida because we’re in Florida. So I took design elements from Paris and London and parts of New York. Those cities have the same kind of turn-of-the-century storefronts, right? So we have gone to great lengths to create this experience that begins before you’ve even entered the property. Every brick has been meticulously crafted. All of them had to have that hundred-year-old, weather-beaten feel with multiple layers of paint so that nothing is aggressive. It’s all very smooth. It’s all very comforting. The way I imagined it is like a pie crust has been placed over these bricks and it just looks inviting. It obviously took a lot of effort to create that sensation.
Then once you step into the place, it’s almost a surrealist experience insofar as the front dining room has a lot of trees in it. So it’s like a twilight park-picnic experience. And that’s one of the things that makes it feel enchanted, experiential, environmental and warm. All of our tables are live-edge. Our beautiful floor had to come in from Italy, and of course it was a fortune. Every little thing is authentic. There’s no faux anything. It’s all natural and beautiful and handcrafted.
Q: And the back room is garden-like?
A: It’s called the Atrium. It does resemble a garden. There are florals around all the walls and ceiling. There’s also a glass pyramid on top to let in natural light. That’s designed to give you a feeling of a courtyard of a country estate, either in Napa or Tuscany or any of the French wine regions. We just decided to do something sort of magical. This is a place where you can go on a date. This is a place where you can go with your friends. You could totally hang out and make this your joint, so to speak. But it definitely also lends itself to a romantic rendezvous. And the lounge is really sensual, actually. It’s the dance of even falling in love, I suppose. So you have your first-date room, but then you have your more romantic room. And then upstairs, you know, you can have your seduction.
Q: The lounge seems very different from the dining rooms.
A: It is a completely different environment, except that what ties it all together are the natural elements. It’s based on travel and adventure and some mysticism, except that all of these elements are coming together in a palette of black and gray. So it’s super high-style in the color and the lighting, but it’s also very exotic. There are Tibetan, Indonesian, African and Mexican elements — a lot of world components.
Q: You’ve spoken so much about the feeling. What about the food?
A: The food and the spirits will accompany the venue harmoniously. We will have a wide array of offerings that are homey and warm and comforting. I’ve created a new culinary style, which I have dubbed, “Vineyard Cuisine.” The way I would describe it is a rustic, high-end, farm-to-table. I think people will find it to be an embrace.
Q: That’s quite a metaphor. Is there a price range at this point?
A: We’re looking at being comparable to other restaurants on Las Olas. So if you want to have a comfortably priced meal, you can absolutely have that. And if you want to have a high-end experience, you can have that too, because we will have wonderful wines and champagnes.
Q: What does the name signify?
A: Funny you should ask. Using this spelling of the word, it has two connotations. One, of course, is that there are loads of wooden elements, but it’s not “timber” like wood. And if you put an “e” on the end of it, then it’s “timbre,” like the resonance for music. We’re not a live music venue — although we may have the occasional live music experience — but it’s the resonance of the experience.
Q: That sounds like an artist talking.
A: Well, that’s my background.
Q: I understand you came up with 1,300 ideas or names for the restaurant? Can you tell me one that almost made it?
A: That’s really funny. I will tell you this much. I had an entirely different design and concept, even with the same name originally, and it was more modern in every way. And then I shared with my partners that I was having this feeling in my heart that we needed to do something different, and they understood that and we changed it. So the name didn’t change, but the design and the intent definitely changed.
Q: Is your process for TIMBR different from your other projects?
A: The way I do any kind of creative endeavor is by feeling. So I think the cornerstone of TIMBR is how you feel in it. Not only the feeling that we want to give to the guest, but what it does for you psychologically and emotionally. All of those kinds of things that are not typical design elements are taken into account. And from there, the design can be crafted to evoke the emotional response. It’s a kind of heart-driven feeling.
Q: How does TIMBR feel compared to your previous productions?
A: I feel like they’re very similar things. Producing any kind of experience to me is producing any kind of experience. So whether it’s a nightclub or a special event, or a fashion show, or an art exhibit, or a TV show or a film — and I’ve worked in all of those mediums — it’s all production. It’s about the feeling. It’s “UX,” an immersion. It’s theater, but you are in the show as opposed to just watching the show. So they’re all immersive, theatrical, orchestrated experiences. You’re in the symphony. You’re in the TIMBR, if you will.