Nine-plus years at the same nightlife entity is a long time for anyone in this market, which makes Jesse Waits’ time with Tryst and XS all the more remarkable—and his resignation last week from running those two enduring nightspots more understandable.
Already a reckoning force in local nightlife, Waits (along with his twin brother, Cy) was brought in by Victor Drai to help boost Tryst—which opened in late 2005—and later run future No. 1 grosser XS in 2009. When Drai and Cy left the two-megaclub operation a year later, Waits rose to the occasion as the lone managing partner by staying the course, holding his own against competitors and implementing an enviable DJ roster. In 2014, XS reportedly brought in more than any other nightclub in the country, grossing more than $105 million.
Rumors abound as to where Waits will end up—including future resort Alon, to be built on the former Frontier site—but you can bet his future post will include more than nightlife. Last March, Waits told the Weekly he sought to evolve professionally by expanding into hotel, hospitality and dining operations: “With the Wynn, hopefully I can get into part of it to educate me and learn the [hotel] business, all that stuff.” Looks like he’ll continue that pursuit elsewhere—and if it’s Alon, the planned resort headed by Australian mogul James Packer and former Wynn president Andrew Pascal, he’ll certainly have plenty of prep time before it opens.
The biggest question mark might be the loyalty of the DJs Waits signed to XS and Tryst and/or with whom he maintained relationships. Waits has made no secret of his closeness with XS exclusives Avicii and Zedd, and he’s worked with Kaskade, Deadmau5 and David Guetta at the club for years. Could XS lose more than just Waits? The perpetual game of nightlife musical chairs continues.