Thursday nights in Miami are for going out. But on Thursday nights at FIU's Biscayne Bay Campus, students are rushing to get to class, especially when their super successful professor, hospitality entrepreneur David Grutman, invites singer Bad Bunny, actor Jason Momoa, rapper Rick Ross or social media influencer Alix Earle to guest speak. To the surprise of more than 400 students taking the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management's most popular class, HFT 4932: The David Grutman Experience, that's exactly what's happened this semester.
Wearing a scarf and incognito, Bad Bunny walked into class and on stage to join Grutman seconds after the professor tried to psyche out students by dismissing the three-hour class early. Instead, students stood up to take pictures and video and shared the news on social media as Grutman welcomed the entertainer, who also happens to be one of his business partners.
"I cannot work on a project without feeling the passion and identify with the project," said Bad Bunny as he explained why he chose to partner with Grutman and his Groot Hospitality group on his very first restaurant, Gekko on Brickell Avenue. "I feel that Miami is perfect for the nightlife experience, and for hanging out, and for elevated food," the singer went on to say about the hospitality venture. Students eagerly asked questions.
Grutman (left) with his latest guest speaker, Bad Bunny
It's the class no one wants to miss. The hospitality business entrepreneurship class is popular because of its format. With generation Z always on their phones and wanting instant answers, students are instead getting a firsthand explanation of Grutman's real-life business ventures.
In this class, Grutman explains concepts like buying versus leasing a property, restaurant design and intellectual property using examples from his restaurant, nightclub and hotel empire. Grutman started in the nightlife business and made his mark with LIV at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. He went on to open restaurants and hotels like the Goodtime Hotel on Miami Beach, which he owns with music producer Pharrell Williams - who has also been a guest speaker. His restaurants, such as Miami's Komodo, are now in other cities like Dallas and Las Vegas. A west coast LIV opened in December at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas.
From Aquaman to environmentalist
He’s saving the planet on and off the big screen. Jason Momoa is best known for his starring role in movies like DC's “Aquaman.” But when he’s not acting or producing new shows like “On the Roam,” and spending time with his family, he’s building up his businesses and brands. While acting allowed him fame, he’s more interested in saving planet Earth one bottle at a time. With his business partner Blaine Halverson, the two founded an award-winning vodka called Meili Vodka. The bottles are made of 100% recyclable glass. Halverson told the students it took them seven years to make this happen.
For Momoa, "Hospitality is giving of my heart." He admits, "I'm self-made, and I had to do it all on my own,"
Jason Momoa (left) and his business partner, Blaine Halverson (middle) join Grutman on stage.
A-List Class Roster
This semester marks the fourth time the class is being held at FIU. Every year, the celebrity guest speaker list grows. Here are some of the past guests:
Alix Earle, social media influencer
Noah Teppenberg of Tao Hospitality Group
The Nelk Boys, YouTubers
Ben Gorham, Luxury Perfumer
With just one class to go in this five-week seminar course, what other lessons will Grutman teach, and who will walk in the door next? We'll just have to wait and see.
Drake (right) made a surprise appearance with Grutman last year.