Advertisement

NYC Wall Streeters are paying $20K a year to smoke cigars and play poker above a Korean restaurant

Forget about Zero Bond and Casa Cipriani, New York City’s most exclusive private club is a poker spot above a Korean restaurant on East 58th Street.

Tony Park, a real estate mogul who owns Anto Korean Steakhouse, wanted an exclusive hideaway where he and his well-heeled friends — mostly finance guys and entrepreneurs — could hang out above his high-end eatery.

So, in December, the 47-year-old launched a private club on the third floor. Members pay $20,000 annually to socialize and get preferential treatment. By invitation, they bring cigars, play poker and do karaoke in the private man-cave upstairs.

Privileges include monogrammed silverware and personalized lockers to store bottles of Macallan, pricey cigars and the like — “Anything they don’t want to bring home,” Park told the Post.

Tony Park at the chef’s table on the second floor of his Anto Korean Steakhouse. Upstairs, it’s a private club with poker, karaoke, cigars and single malt. Brian Zak/NY Post
Tony Park at the chef’s table on the second floor of his Anto Korean Steakhouse. Upstairs, it’s a private club with poker, karaoke, cigars and single malt. Brian Zak/NY Post

Members also get their own key to the space, which they can access anytime.

“There’s a member who likes to come before work to smoke a cigar and drink coffee,” Park said. “He lets himself in and goes upstairs.”

Poker nights often begin with dinner downstairs, where steak and losbster are presented in a Louis Vuitton suitcase, with smoking dry ice, and caviar is served on mini Korean potato pancakes.

Dinner — which includes choices of caviar, oysters, duck, American Wagyu and other fine delicacies — is presented in Louis Vuitton suitcases over smoking dry ice. Brian Zak/NY Post
Dinner — which includes choices of caviar, oysters, duck, American Wagyu and other fine delicacies — is presented in Louis Vuitton suitcases over smoking dry ice. Brian Zak/NY Post
Soon after presentation. the steak is cooked on a tabletop grill. Brian Zak/NY Post
Soon after presentation. the steak is cooked on a tabletop grill. Brian Zak/NY Post

The club developed organically. Park’s friends tended to use a private dining room on the second floor to drink and play cards into the wee hours, but he wanted the space to be used for its intended purposes.

So, he transformed the third-floor apartment into a luxe man cave decorated in rich shades of brown and outfitted with a leather sofa, big-screen TV, liquor cart, humidor and a karaoke machine that works in three languages.

“I told my [guys], ‘You wanna play poker? Go upstairs. You wanna sing, go upstairs. You wanna smoke cigars? Go upstairs,'” he said.

But, his point of pride, is the leather-and-baize poker table. “I just got it,” Park said enthusiastically.

The dealer, a Wharton graduate, was new to poker, but she picked up the game quickly. Brian Zak/NY Post
The dealer, a Wharton graduate, was new to poker, but she picked up the game quickly. Brian Zak/NY Post

There are currently 20 members, and Park can accommodate no more than 32.

On a recent Wednesday night, about ten guys gathered around the table to play no limit Texas hold’em. (The game is completely legal since it takes place in a private spot and the house does not benefit financially.)

Despite a cellar of nearly 5,000 bottles, players bring their own booze. A state-of-the art ventilation system cleared the air of cigar smoke. A lone woman slipped into the dealer’s spot, despite knowing nothing about poker.

“Of course she figured it,” said a real estate guy in the game. “She graduated from Wharton.”

Members use their lockers to store whiskey, cigars and monogrammed silverware. Brian Zak/NY Post
Members use their lockers to store whiskey, cigars and monogrammed silverware. Brian Zak/NY Post

The action was fast and reckless, with bankers and finance bros over-betting without worry.

The exuberant and lucky Park won a hand because his rags were better than those of his bluffing adversary.

A player at the table good-naturedly asked, “How am I losing in this game?” ”

Cards are in air and chips are on the table at Tony Park’s private club. Brian Zak/NY Post
Cards are in air and chips are on the table at Tony Park’s private club. Brian Zak/NY Post

At around 10:30 p.m., Park ordered Little Italy Pizza — he likes that the crust is made with Japanese breadcrumbs — then asked his restaurant manager to bring up the best cognac on the house. The game went on until just past midnight.

As the French libation was poured, a Wall Street executive dressed down in a Run DMC sweatshirt, raked in a pot and gushed, “When I think of hospitality, I think of Tony. He’s a real estate guy who has the luxury to be good to his friends.”