About us

The Charleston is a sexy new nightlife venue featuring live entertainment and Chef’s take on American comfort food expressed in a menu of shared plates. Set in a lounge-style space with distinct 1930’s décor, the multifaceted venue will feature everything from nightly live entertainment such as burlesque, rock cover bands, DJs, jazz, karaoke, comedy nights, and dueling pianos. A dynamic culinary scene spotlights pop-up restaurants with special menus from guest chefs and Chef Tila himself.

Chef Jet Tila
Managing Partner, Director of Food & Beverage

tila 199×300 About UsJet Tila is a nationally celebrated chef specializing in all styles of Asian cuisine. As a boy, he learned the ancient traditions of classical Asian food from spending time in his family’s restaurants and at the Bangkok Market, America’s first Thai Grocery Store and Importer in Hollywood. Tila’s Le Cordon Bleu education coupled with his extensive knowledge of Asian gastronomy has given him a wide range of ideas to draw upon to create incomparable and innovative cuisine.

From the very start of his career, Tila was flagged as a chef to watch and has since earned many noteworthy accolades. In 1999, Tila was awarded The Los Angeles Times “Best Recipe of the Year” for his Tom Yum soup, and his Tom Kha Gai soup was named one of the “Ten Best recipes of 2000.”

In 2008, Chef Tila unveiled his prized creation, the highly esteemed Pan-Asian restaurant Wazuzu at Steve Wynn’s Encore luxury resort in Las Vegas. Merely a few months after opening, Wazuzu was named on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Hot List Tables.”

Shortly thereafter in 2009, Tila penned a popular weekly insider’s column for Las Vegas Weekly chronicling Season 6 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” series, which took place Las Vegas. In the spring of 2011, Tila collaborated with Chef Alex Ageneau on the creation of the popular Los Angeles pop-up restaurant BistroNominics, a whimsical, constantly evolving experience presenting a contemporary fine dining experience.

Chef Tila also has an active television career. His Drunken Noodles with Chicken was honored as “The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Chopsticks” by Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series in 2011. When Travel Channel’s star culinary personality Anthony Bourdain profiled Los Angeles on the Emmy Award-winning “No Reservations” a few years back, Tila escorted him on a tour of Thai Town. But the highlight of Tila’s TV career to date was his appearance on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” last year, crossing knives with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, in Kitchen Stadium for “Battle Seaweed.”

On local radio, Tila is a frequent guest with host Evan Kleiman on her “Good Food” program heard on National Public Radio’s KCRW-FM (the flagship affiliate for Southern California). Chef Tila also holds the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Stir-Fry” at 4,010 pounds.

His most recent project brought him back Los Angeles as the Executive Chef and Owner of LA’s newest nightlife hotspot, The Charleston, an unprecedented gastrolounge featuring nightly live entertainment and rotating pop-ups spotlighting special menus from guest chefs and Chef Tila himself.

Outside the kitchen, Tila spends his time at home in Los Angeles with his wife, Allison, and family dogs Rogue and Maude.
Trey Martin
Managing Partner, Director of Marketing & Promotions

martin 199×300 About UsNative Angeleno Trey Martin grew up immersed in Los Angeles’ entertainment and music culture. After a brief departure from the west coast to attend Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business where he received Bachelor of Science in Finance and played varsity baseball all four years, Martin returned to his Southern California roots. He ventured into the financial sector, working for Granite Investment Partners, LLC, but eventually followed his true calling to the entertainment industry.

In 2009, Martin cofounded Martin Entertainment Group, an entertainment lifestyle company focusing on event production, talent management, film production, and small business promotions.

As a Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Promotions at The Charleston, Martin uses his familiarity of Los Angeles’ entertainment scene to create the ultimate lifestyle experience. He draws on his lifelong LA ties and four years of industry know-how to book and produce special events and entertainment acts. Armed with a keen sense of what makes people tick, Martin continually crafts an exciting and memorable lineup, making The Charleston a stand-out Santa Monica entertainment and nightlife venue.

When not busy at The Charleston, Martin enjoys spending his time outdoors and giving back to the local community. He is the Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit LA LOVES YOU, set to launch in March 2012. Finding inspiration in his father’s life story and how he came to provide for his family, Martin lives by the mantra, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Mike Lee
Owner & Managing Partner

lee michael 199×300 About UsMike Lee uses his extensive business knowledge and passion for music and nightlife to create a sophisticated and unique experience at The Charleston. Raised in Hemet, CA, southeast of Los Angeles, Mike ventured north to study at University of California, Berkeley, where he received a Dual Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Economic Development in Asia. Mike then went on to receive an MBA with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Since entering the professional arena, Mike has worked as a business strategist in the retail, alcohol and restaurant sectors. As a manager at Target Corporation, Mike led teams in developing new store formats; at Gap Inc., he was responsible for managing $10 million in inventory for the company’s European stores; and as a consultant for Lieberman Research Worldwide, Mike advised Coors Brewing on branding and marketing tactics and consulted T.G.I.Fridays and ESPN Zone on restaurant design, menu optimization, happy hour marketing and overall guest satisfaction.

Feeling the entrepreneurial itch, Mike founded Igloo Consulting, a non-profit consulting firm that advised over 30 restaurant and retail businesses in marketing and operations. Mike is also an investor in BRÜ Haus, a European-inspired restaurant concept in Brentwood, and is a principal in two retail shopping centers in Murrieta and Temecula, California.

Joining forces with his brother Jack to start The Charleston, Mike uses his corporate strategy expertise to think outside the box to create a unique bar and nightlife experience at the new venue. In addition to overseeing the entire operation, Mike sets long-term strategy, and assists in selecting musical acts.

In his down time, Mike feeds his musical hunger at concerts, music festivals or honing his DJing skills. Mike also enjoys surfing, hiking, yoga, and snowboarding. Mike also loves to travel and has journeyed extensively through Asia and Europe.

Jack M.Y. Lee
Owner & Project Sponsor

lee jack 199×300 About UsA true “Jack” of all trades, The Charleston’s Project Sponsor and Owner Jack M.Y. Lee brings to the table his real estate development, finance, entrepreneurship, networking and deal making experience. Originally born overseas in Taipei, Taiwan, Jack came to the United States in his early years, ultimately settling down in California. He attended University of California, San Diego, where he received a Dual Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. He then went back east to Washington, D.C. to attend law school at Georgetown University. After receiving his J.D. and passing the District of Columbia Bar, Jack worked a short stint in the litigation department at a high powered Washington, D.C.-based law firm before quickly coming to the conclusion that the corporate world was not for him. Upon this realization, Jack returned home to Southern California in pursuit of a more entrepreneurial, flexible, and free-flowing lifestyle. Starting fresh and switching gears, he continued his education at University of Southern California, receiving his Masters in Real Estate Development while simultaneously developing his own 174,000 SF retail shopping center project from the ground up. Jack has since spoken on real estate related entrepreneurship at the graduate level on numerous occasions at UCLA Anderson, USC Marshall, and UC Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.

While Jack’s core business is retail shopping center development, dabbling in restaurant concept creation was a natural fit for his skill set and experience due to the crossover of restaurants being a retail business as well as his personal passion for food and nightlife. Prior to opening The Charleston, Jack was one of a handful of the original founders and remains a managing principal at Brentwood’s Euro-inspired BRÜ Haus. In selecting to pursue the projects that became The Charleston and BRÜ Haus, Jack saw in both a bargain as well as a diamond in the rough based on core real estate principles such as location, market comparables, and highest and best use. As a managing partner at The Charleston, Jack participates in strategy development, promotion, marketing, and continues to seek additional locations for expansion opportunities.

Jack is an avid sports enthusiast and enjoys cooking, dining, and meeting new people, as well as exploring LA’s live music and nightlife scene. “The best thing about being in the restaurant and nightlife business is the satisfaction of seeing the smiles on your guests’ faces when they are thoroughly enjoying the experience created for them during their well earned and deserved downtime.”