Remember the days when one would go out to a club to drink and dance for a while and then make a stop over at Denny’s for a bite? Well, now you can accomplish both goals without ever leaving the club! Midnight Brunch brings the concept of breakfast food and booze together for EDM fans at Santa Ana’s Bar Ellipses. The secret is apparently out as the club typically packs ‘em in with their magical combination. In advance of Daft Punk tribute band One More Time’s Friday performance at Midnight Brunch, the Weekly had a chat with Bar Ellipses owner / promoter Brandon Owen and Skyler Tanksley, whose company MIA Entertainment created Midnight Brunch, to get the skinny on the goodies.
OC WEEKLY (Scott Feinblatt): What are each of your roles in Midnight Brunch?
Brandon Owen: I'm the owner of the venue, and also I have a promotion company called White Rabbit Group that's been doing shows here in Santa Ana for 5 years, mainly at the Yost Theater and I'm a half partner in [the] Midnight Brunch brand, promoting it, helping curate the talent. Skyler and his partner Riley [Cronin] were actually the creators of Midnight Brunch, with their company MIA, and they brought it to my venue, and I liked what they were doing so much that we partnered up and joined forces to make it a bigger, better show.
How long has Midnight Brunch been going on?
Skyler Tanksley: Honestly, it's been going on for about six months, but when I say consistent, on a hard level where you can plug in weekly, two months.
How did Midnight Brunch get started? What's the origin of its concept?
Tanksley: There's four of us in the partnership, so it's Brandon, me, Riley, and Leo [Orange], and we were event goers for the last ten years or so — we've been to everything from raves to country concerts to hip hop concerts — and we saw some cool things going [on] with Brownies and Lemonade and other [clubs] that we'd gone to and had a good time at, but we just weren't satisfied with just that notion, so we decided to kind of get together and think of something very very very fun, very playful and something that everyone could plug into, and build its origin from there. So at first we're like: “We're going to make pancakes!” [We wondered] “How can we do something with like a breakfast theme?” When we were younger, we were saying like, “Dude, how crazy would it be if you had like a brunch at night?” And then we're just like “This is something that we need to make, you know, make into reality as opposed to it being a vision,” so once we did our first one, the waffles started kind of popping off, and the smell at midnight...it just started to really catch its own vibe.
Owen: When I came into the deal, I just wanted to expand on an already good concept, so we introduced bottomless mimosas; we've introduced Captain Crunch shots, Cinnamon Toast Crunch shots, and maple flavored whiskey shots, which taste like syrup, basically, and so we just kind of ran wild with it. We were like: "How much fun can we have with it? How themed can we get?" and we redesigned the logo into a neon waffle. So, that's the experience, and then they were doing well with just local DJs but my background is booking big talent, so we were able to bring in some pretty amazing DJs to the mix. Once the breakfast foods and the DJs combined, it started to really take off.
Do all Midnight Brunch events have a specific theme or featured act? This week you’ve got One More Time headlining.
Owen: Yeah. So, [this week] we've got One More Time, they're actually a travelling Daft Punk tribute group — we've actually had at the Yost a few times — so our direction with music is definitely like house and you know everybody's familiar with the Daft Punk sound and a lot of future bass as opposed to other brands I do, which are a lot more heavy, but we wanted to keep it light and fun and we thought musically it's actually an oddly great pairing of music and food.
What kind of turnouts do you guys get for the club night?
Owen: It's starting to get pretty packed, you know, we're an 18 and over club, but it's majority 21 and over, and I think once school starts, we're going to be sold out pretty much all the time; we've got some amazing talent coming up that could sell it out on its own, so we like to think of how to give the guests something extra. It's catching on quick. We're getting to capacity pretty fast. [The venue’s capacity is 400]
Tanksley: And when you think of Midnight Brunch and Midnight Brunch vibe, it's really like being able to get into a venue that you really enjoy the music, and you're already a couple drinks in and you always kind of get that thought of "Wow, it would be great to have something to eat right now!" — because everyone ends up getting a little bit hungry [walking around] in the night, and you kind of just go and you smell that waffle being made, and it just kind of satisfies you already because you realize you're at the right spot, the right place, already with everything you need to have a good time.
Are we talking designer waffles, here, like gourmet stuff? Is there a secret formula to your waffles?
Owen: They're fresh made right there, and they definitely put the smell in the room; they make it smell amazing, but gourmet style is something we've been talking about so don't be surprised if you see it really soon!
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Tanksley: But they are Belgian waffles, nonetheless, and they're fluffy, and they're really good!
How do you select the themes or the acts that you're going to feature on club nights?
Owen: Most of night life is about curating a vibe, and it's strange to think: "All right, what music goes best with this food?" Almost like a wine pairing, but that deep house has been the most popular thing we've done, and so I think we just found our groove and we're running with it.
Deep house and breakfast, that's the magic combo!
Owen: Yeah, apparently!
Is there anything else readers should keep an eye out for?
Owen: Yeah, I acquired the venue back in December, as Bar Ellipses but that's kind of been the beta version as I've tested out what works and doesn't work in Santa Ana, and now, with events like Midnight Brunch or White Rabbit's Havoc Show — that we did at the Yost — that we'll be moving in, we kind of re-defined everything. Now we know exactly what we want to do and how we want to do it, so we're going to be re-launching the club in the Fall as a boutique nightclub, Midnight Brunch will stay in the venue; all of the venue is going to see a lot of really changes coming up. So, in addition to having a cool brand, we're going to have an even cooler club to fit it in.