While some might consider it ironic that Nathan Lieberman, scion of a family well known for its contribution to the development and chic factor of South Beach, emerged in the family business as a major player after attending film school at NYU.
However, the mercurial and charismatic Lieberman doesn’t see irony. Instead, he sees a logical connection between two fields many might not consider exactly simpatico.
“I went to film school because I wanted to be a producer,” Lieberman said. “Producers are involved in the business and financial ends of the industry. A very smart lady professor I had said to me that if my dad was in the real estate business, I might want to learn that in case film doesn’t work out.”
Subsequently, Lieberman said he took all of the finance, real estate investment, accounting and development classes he could at the same time he was taking the creative classes related to film.
“My final thesis was on reinventing capitalism in real estate and film,” said a decidedly un-ironic Lieberman. “Directors and architects are basically the same job, and developer and producer are basically the same job. I tied film and real estate together to study both at the same time. I learned basically that both are about working with people to finish a project.”
Armed with an education in and understanding of the underlying tenets of real estate and development, Lieberman returned to South Florida and to working with his father, famed boutique hotelier Alan Lieberman, at South Beach Group.
“Even though I didn’t want to work with my dad, it turned out to be the best thing,” he said.
Lieberman said that he gained huge respect for what his father’s industry required of Alan Lieberman on a day-in and day-out basis.
“I learned so much, to see every detail and how quick some decisions are made and how long it takes for others; the way he always does the right thing; and to see how he treats people,” Nathan Lieberman said. “More than just business, working with him gave me more respect for family. Business is just a means to an end.”
Of course, those “ends” at South Beach Group have made it an impressive and respected member of the business and hospitality communities in South Florida. With more than a dozen boutique hotels and restaurants and bars in total in Miami Beach alone, and with numerous projects in the pipeline, there seems no end in sight to the growth of a company that’s built its reputation from distinct vision and properties, amenities and service – all while delivering memorable experience for countless travelers who desired a true, boutique Miami Beach experience.
Nathan Lieberman is proud of accomplishments made since his joining the business. “Watching my company grow from 100 to 750 employees over the last 12 years is something I am very proud of,” he said. “That constant growth and never stopping or being stagnant is an accomplishment. I also think it’s something that I’ve been working with my dad for 12 years and we’ve never had a falling out.”
In fact, Lieberman said that his father is a great partner with whom to work.
“I’m more the creative/idea side of things and making deals,” he said. “I do the restaurants and food and bar, and he’s good with the construction and design side of things.”
But it isn’t business success alone that brings Lieberman fulfillment.
“My favorite thing is, over the years, working with busboys who are now top servers and seeing line cooks become chefs – working with people and watching them build careers,” Lieberman said. “Instead of hiring someone with a huge resume, helping them create a huge resume is very gratifying, whether they then move on or if they continue working with me.”
Lieberman is set to help potentially launch quite a few new career portfolios with the projects on his immediate plate. The Riviera South Beach is the most recent addition to the Group’s Miami Beach portfolio. Located just one block off Collins Avenue, the retreat features 54 imaginatively designed one-bedroom, apartment-like accommodations with full-gourmet kitchens, a courtyard pool complete with an outdoor bar and private cabanas, meeting space, and a breathtaking sun deck with sweeping views of the city and ocean. Next up is the Croydon Arms at 3720 Collins Avenue, complete with a restaurant-bar, one of the signatures Lieberman stamps on projects.
“Hopefully we can open in six months,” Lieberman said. “It’s a gorgeous space, there are high ceilings, and I want to open a Mediterranean gastro-pub there. I don’t know if I’ll do it myself or bring in a big name chef.”
Just as South Beach Group hotel properties can be characterized as distinct and boutique, Lieberman’s restaurant ventures have certain traits in common.
“All of my restaurants are more like restaurants in a bar or lounge space,” he said. “The focus is more on hanging out and having fun – more like a nightclub. You’re not going to sit in one of my restaurants and talk about the food, even though it’s good. They are more places for people to hang, and we do a lot of parties.”
While Lieberman has certainly been busy expanding the boutique South Beach Group empire, he has not left behind his interest in production – although, he says, to date his work has been in television as opposed to film. He is a founder, producer and CFO for Beach Pictures, a full-service production company based in Miami specializing in creating and developing docu-reality and scripted series for cable and broadcast outlets worldwide. The company has developed content, pilots, and worked on series for CW, MTV, VH1, Bravo, TLC, Tru TV, CNN, ABC, and Current TV. As original content creators, they have worked with and developed shows with some of the industry’s top companies such as Electus, The Weinstein Company, Bischoff Hervey Entertainment, Pilgrim Television, Radical Media, 25/7, and Pink Sneakers, according to their website profile. Beach Pictures provides locations, casting and full production support to major networks, film crews, and production companies.
“We’re working on a show right now that’s about David Sugarman’s sports agency,” Lieberman said. “The business of sports is very private and conducted behind closed doors. It’s also not always on the up-and-up. He wants to be totally transparent. It’s going to be eye opening.”
Still Lieberman said he would be interested in producing a film. “Only if a great script came along. It would have to be the right project and the script is like a blueprint. They really are the same thing.”
Lieberman, an active sportsman who enjoys the challenges of snowboarding, polo and surfing, said that balancing his many projects is about focus.
“Whatever makes the most money is what I spend most of my time on,” he said. “I try to do it that way. A lot of people lose focus on the fact that business is making money. Sometimes people lose focus on projects.”
It’s clear from his successes that focus has not been a problem for Nathan Lieberman – including focus on the next goal he has for his iconic company.
“Next on the horizon is as beach-front hotel,” he said.
For more information on South Beach Group go here.