Charles Khabouth is on a tear. The so-called King of Clubs (a name he’s understandably sick of) recently opened Weslodge, La Société and Cube, is set to open the multi-floor Storys and Spanish resto Patria, and just announced yesterday that his company Ink Entertainment has acquired a majority stake in The Docks Entertainment Complex (which includes the Sound Academy) and will partner with Montreal’s Ted Walker to bring the infamous St. Laurent fixture Buonanotte to Toronto in Ame’s former Mercer Street space (phew!). Over the weekend the Toronto Star ran a somewhat breathless profile by Vinay Menon containing a number of familiar anecdotes and a lot of colour about the man’s tireless work ethic. Oh, and if all the announcements aren’t enough, the article contained one more: Devil’s Martini on Adelaide is being bulldozed and readied for a late October reopening, when the bar will again welcome guests after receiving the full Khabouth treatment (i.e., a new name and an entirely new, luxe interior). Below, five things we learned about the man behind the restaurants:
1. He spares no cost…
Anyone who has ever set foot in any of Khabouth’s recent ventures knows that the man is not reserved when it comes to shelling out for pricey interiors. Designer Kenny Baird, a longtime acquaintance, recalls him spending $30,000 on a single sculpture for the background of a restaurant—spare change, really, when you consider the $2.5 million he spent to open Weslodge (it’s outfitted with taxidermied animals and a tile floor from Mexico). Khabouth shows no sign of curbing his spending, either: the Devil’s Martini revamp will include a half-million dollars in LED lighting.
2. …but sometimes lets things slide to satisfy revellers
When a midnight visit to his Guvernment nightclub revealed a 1,700-odd person lineup snaking around the building, Khabouth told his security guards to just let ’em all in: “Forget scanning f—ing tickets, we’re going to have a nightmare on our hands. We need to get bodies in now. I don’t care about a few fake tickets.”
3. He is practically cursed with a work ethic
During high school, he worked non-stop (one job at the IGA, another at McDonald’s and a third cleaning carpets), leaving him with little time for sleep before hitting the books. His habits haven’t changed much since then. As he told the Star, “It’s like somebody who is an addict. He knows he’s killing himself by doing drugs. But he can’t help it. Sometimes I feel the same way.” Menon diagnoses the tendency as “his addiction, his disease, maybe even his curse.”
4. He wasn’t initially into the whole fatherhood thing, but now totally gets it
Khabouth candidly admits that he was not always the most attentive father, once refusing to put kid seats in his Range Rover because it was decidedly uncool: “Listen, some people fall in love with their kids when they are a day old. I didn’t. I was overwhelmed with work. I thought of my kids more as a pain in the ass than anything else. Only because at the time I was not mentally ready and I thought work was much more important.” While he is still, undoubtedly, a workaholic, the reformed family man now takes pains to ensure he is present in his kids’ lives.
5. This city’s not big enough for him
With many hotspots around Toronto already under his belt, Khabouth has his sights set on bigger game: “My biggest motivation is to drive my company into being one of the biggest in North America in the hospitality industry.”