Who is Alvin Malnik?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Alvin I. Malnik was born 05/23/33 in St. Louis, MO where he attended Clark Elementary School and Soldan High School graduating in 1950. He then attended Washington University receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1954. From 1954 to 1956, he served in the U.S. Army as a Guided Missile Officer achieving the rank of Reserve Captain. From 1956 to 1959, he attended the University of Miami of Law and graduated with high honors and achieved an LLB and J.D. degree.

He engaged in the practice of law for approximately ten years thereafter and subsequently has principally been in the real estate development and the finance business. He has never been involved in any bankruptcy or suffered any adverse judgments. He is an honorarium of the Founders Society of the University of Miami, a founder of the University of Miami/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center; a Founder of Mount Sinai Medical Center and is the only person that has ever achieved “Life-time” Benefactor of the Make-a-Wish Foundation of South Florida.In addition to the aforementioned real estate and finance business, Mr. Malnik created the world renowned ‘The Forge Restaurant’ 40 years ago which is the second oldest restaurant in South Florida (Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant being the oldest). The Forge has been nominated as one of the flagship restaurants in America as well as having achieved the International Grand Master Wine Award and was voted #1 restaurant in America by Wine Spectator Magazine. Some of the projects that Mr. Malnik has developed are the Sky Lake County Club, California Club residences, Brandsmart Building, Cricket Club condominium buildings, and apartment complexes in California and Florida. Mr. Malnik was also honored by the Miami Chamber of Commerce as Outstanding Citizen of the Year for 2007.

15th Annual Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball Raises $1 Million For Children Through Out South Florida

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

We here at Haute Living heard about the Make-A-Wish Ball on Saturday, November 7, 2009, where the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Southern Florida and InterContinental Miami celebrated the 15th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball, raising $1 million, with a Beatles-inspired cocktail reception and dinner, musical performance by Beatlemania Now, extravagant live auction emceed by Pamela Anderson, and 2nd Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Nightclub.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist also appeared as a special honoree. “We are delighted to announce that our 15th Annual InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball was an extraordinary success,” said Norman Wedderburn, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida President/CEO. “As a result of the unwavering support of our donors, we were able to raise an astonishing amount of money for our children amidst these tough times. I am extremely grateful for all of the generous supporters who donated and contributed their time and efforts towards making this year’s Ball an unforgettable experience and more importantly, providing the resources that will make wishes come true for 200 children across South Florida.”

This year’s InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball was made possible by the committee’s star players: President/CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida, Norm Wedderburn; Ball Chairman and proprietor of The Forge, Shareef Malnik; and recently appointed InterContinental Miami General Manager, Robert B. Hill.

Also honored at this year’s Ball were Lifetime Benefactors Al and Nancy Malnik; Grand Benefactors Stanley and Gala Cohen; Founding Benefactors Howard and Barbara Glicken; and Wish Star Benefactor James L. Ferraro, as well as Wish Benefactors Harvey and Roberta Chaplin, Stuart A. Miller of Lennar Corporation and Robert Press of Trafalgar Capital Advisors.

The evening began with an extravagant Beatles-inspired cocktail reception in the hotel’s Mezzanine, which was transformed into a wonderland reminiscent of the legendary group’s songs “Strawberry Fields,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “All You Need Is Love,” among others. The fantasy decor included a yellow submarine made of 1,000 balloons, a hand-carved carousel of air-brushed animals, six-foot-tall strawberries dotted with giant rhinestone “seeds,” and eight-foot-high letters that spelled out “LOVE” on an Abbey Road Studios facade.

Guests enjoyed bountiful hors d’oeuvre stations created by InterContinental Miami’s gifted Executive Chef Alexander Feher, spirits provided by Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., and the renowned silent auction that raised $87,000. More than 140 premier items were donated by top hospitality, entertainment, fashion and luxury brands, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Ocean Reef Club, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Lines and Christian Dior, to name a few.

At the end of the reception, guests were summoned to dinner by the event’s 47 themed performers, including a 10-foot lobster man on stilts, a bearded lady, a strong man, Sgt. Pepper characters, glittering mermaids and colorful sea anemones.

The dinner gala continued with beats by Miami HEAT resident DJ Irie and an action-packed live auction hosted by Anderson. Attorney Jim Ferraro donated nearly $500,000 for three items-a Ferrari California donated by Ken Gorin of THE COLLECTION; a home rental and golf experience at famed St. Andrews Links, Scotland, provided by Paul and Emma Woodhouse; and a trip to Punta Mita, Mexico courtesy of Strategic Hotels and Resorts, owners of InterContinental Miami. A total of $210,000 was raised by Miami’s top VIPs and philanthropists at the live auction.

The grand finale of the event featured live music entertainment, with Beatlemania Now bringing the crowd to its feet from the first chords of “I Saw Her Standing There.” Following the Ball and for the second time in InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball’s history, the after-party at InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Nightclub celebrated the Ball’s endeavors and reintroduced the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida to the next generation of contributors and Miami’s tastemakers in the fashion, arts, music and nightlife industries.

Al Malnik’s Lasting Legacy

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Any true South Florida aficionado has heard the legend of Al Malnik. But to hear it from the man himself is the rarest of opportunities.

Interview by Kamal Hotchandani

Story by Benjamin Minkus

Photography by Brett Ratner

It is a success story that could have been written for Hollywood-imagine the movie trailer now. Alvin Malnik, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, is born in the roughshod neighborhoods of working-class St. Louis, a teenage gang member who could have easily been eaten alive or fallen astray.
Fast forward to 1964. Malnik is now 31, a multimillionaire, and a well-connected lawyer with celebrity clients who dominate the entertainment business. As time progresses, Malnik transforms into shrewd businessman and a literal pioneer of the South Beach scene, with holdings in real estate and as founder of Miami Beach’s finest institution, The Forge-which would later be taken to new heights by his own son, Shareef, but only once the elder Malnik takes a unique opportunity to work with the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.
Now it speeds up. Flash frames show Malnik with a slew of the big names across the years-from world-famous attorney and mentor Jake Ehrlich to Rat Pack stars Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., to his first son, Shareef, and his “11th son,” famed director Brett Ratner, to a bevy of beautiful women and a host of others-until, suddenly, the camera pauses, and Malnik finds the love of his life-Nancy. Like clockwork, they fall for each other, marry, expand their family and watch their children grow, as a picturesque sunset fades over his sprawling Palm Beach mansion.
But success is never built overnight, and so for Malnik, no movie trailer could do justice to his life’s bountiful accomplishments. No, to get the real story-the story that cannot be told by any outsider-one must get the opportunity to sit down with the legendary Malnik, to bask in the glory of his opulent 35,000-square-foot Palm Beach home, and truly listen to the story of a man who built an empire out of a big heart and an unflappable will.
Chapter I St. Louis
“The early days in St. Louis were really two-fold,” Malnik says matter-of-factly of the blue-collar Midwest city. “One of depravation and one of family love. Depravation in the sense of material depravation-our family was very poor, we lived in a poor neighborhood. But there was a really good camaraderie among all of us poor kids because we used to play in the alley, and chase street cars, and do all the goofy things that kids do. Our main sports activity was cork ball, which they never play today, but we used to play in the street. It was not dangerous; everyone’s front door was left open because there was very little crime or robbery back in those days. I came from a very musical family-they were immigrants from Russia, including my dad’s brothers-and we all lived in the same neighborhood and they spoke Russian and Yiddish more than they spoke English. There were a lot of Italians in the neighborhood who spoke Italian rather than English. It was very ethnic in that regard. But it was really a lot of fun, it was memorable.”
Indeed, Malnik came to learn in his youth that success would never be handed to him on a silver platter. Instead, he learned, “It was very important to our parents that my brother and I be professional. That’s really practically all they cared about and we promised them faithfully we would do it-it was easier for my brother than it was for me-but nevertheless, I managed anyway.”
However, applying his motivation to worthwhile causes would wait awhile, as youthful indiscretions highlighted Malnik’s teenage years. A self-described “wild teenager,” Malnik was a gang member, pulling pranks and running amuck with a tough crowd of lower-class thugs. “But the activities of the gangs in those days do not at all relate to the activities of gangs today that would border on or include major criminality. Although, I must say, eventually, once I got out of the neighborhood, those who stayed, a healthy number, in retrospect, did spend quite a bit of time in prison for petty crimes,” he said.
A major turning point of Malnik’s upbringing occurred during high school, when his family moved from a four-family flat to the upstairs of a two-story flat-a minor improvement, but one which made a tremendous impact on the young Malnik. What ensued was a greater understanding of what he could do with his own massive potential.
“I met a new set of friends, and I finally met a lot of kids that were from a better economic situation than I was from, which really instilled a great desire to me to want to have that kind of a life and be able to acquire that kind of material benefits that those parents seemed to give those families. Unfortunately, my mother and father didn’t really assimilate into the American concept. They led kind of a secluded and a bit of a sheltered life, and were satisfied to stay in a lower economic stratum. They thought that the safety net for my brother and myself was that if we were doctors or lawyers, we would be able to make a living, which they weren’t always able to do.”
With his mind set, Malnik aimed for a career in law-with a detour along the way. Joining an ROTC program during his undergraduate studies, Malnik was obligated to spend two years as an Army officer in El Paso, Texas. With such calculated decision-making that flashed a maturity beyond his years, it was somewhat out of character that one major component of Malnik’s law studies was made on a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Chapter II Coming to Miami
“Not knowing any better, I got married, and we decided we didn’t want to go back to St. Louis. Neither of us had ever been to Florida or California, which we thought were the glory states-we thought, ‘This is where we need to be.’ We could get away from the cold weather, and the climate, and the regimentation of growing up in a conservative city like St. Louis. So we flipped a coin, and it came out Florida-this was 1956. I had benefits from the GI program, so I was able to register in law school at the University of Miami and I became a lawyer.”
As he toiled away in pursuit of his law degree, Malnik approached yet another turning point in his life with the birth of his first two children, including his first son, Shareef, who would later take over The Forge empire. By the time Malnik crossed the stage to receive his diploma as a graduate at the university in Coral Gables, “Shareef and his sister were born, saying ‘Hi, Daddy,’ to me as I walked across the stage with my diploma.”
Though post-graduation did not go according to plan (”I was disappointed because the guy I really liked so much in law school-we had always planned to be partners, we had won the moot court competitions, we were at the top of the class-opted not to do that,”) Malnik, with ample grit from his St. Louis upbringing, took a major risk in starting a practice in, of all places, South Beach.
“I opted to hang out at my shingle on Lincoln Road-605 Lincoln Road on Miami Beach-and I just remember sitting there with my feet on the desk most of the days.” It was during those dog days that Malnik began to build a name for himself as a top-notch attorney. In fact, says Shareef, “As a kid, you have a tendency to want to argue with your parents when you’re five years old. He wasn’t the easiest person to win an argument against.”
And, perhaps most importantly, the elder Malnik’s early days in law practice led to the beginning of a long-standing relationship with Jake Ehrlich, who at the time was perhaps the most famed defender in the United States. As a result of their close bond, Ehrlich put Malnik’s name and full-page photo on the inside cover of his enormously popular book, Never Plead Guilty, which put Malnik on the map around the country as one of the top young lawyers.
“I got a few cases, small cases, started acquiring a reputation as a result of winning them-they were the local bookmakers and all that-so I started a criminal practice, and I got highly recommended, and before you knew it, I had some substantial cases. I had met and participated in a couple of cases with a great lawyer that I admired, Jake Ehrlich, probably the best criminal lawyer in the country, and he was kind enough to care for me and take me on as a junior partner.”
With his career on the fast track to success, Malnik began to chase business pursuits out of his law practice, an idea that would pay off immediate dividends, and which would make a lasting impact on his children-one which is still felt to this day.
“Growing up in that brilliant environment, it has the same effect as law school,” Shareef says. “It changes the chemistry of your brain, makes you think outside the box, and hopefully I’ve adopted that and I try to think outside the box myself. Growing up with him, you learn integrity and ethics. You can’t learn that as an adult, you have to learn that at a young age. Buzz words like loyalty, doing the right thing, and dignity are really words that he lives by, even to his own detriment, he would never sacrifice his dignity or his honor.”

“The trick of the year-this year or any year-has been pulled off by a 31-year-old Miami Beach lawyer who, in a matter of months, has developed holdings worth several million dollars.”
So begins a 1964 front-page story, titled “Success Story: He was a Millionaire in a Wink,” in the Miami Beach Daily Sun regarding Al Malnik. The story is accompanied by a photo of Malnik (he confesses, “I look like I’m taking my bar mitzvah photos in that story”) standing along with mentor Jake Ehrlich, but focuses on Malnik’s first major business venture: Scopitone.
Scopitone, a sort of movie jukebox, was a new-fangled invention dripping with promise, and Malnik, riding a wave of success a mile high, bought in. Malnik acquired the U.S. rights to Scopitone, started a movie production company, and hired former Paramount head Irving Briscoe to head up the operation. Debbie Reynolds, then a famous singer-actress, assisted in the film-making, and soon enough, Malnik merged his company in 1963 with another and was paid $2 million for his interest. “I thought, well, I never have to work anymore, a young guy with that kind of money,” Malnik says, laughing.
Luckily for Malnik, his well-connected relationships and reputation as a hard working, innovative business mind left him with several lasting friendships that helped shape new businesses. Through his work with Scopitone, Malnik ended up representing Las Vegas-area hotels such as The Sands, and quickly formed bonds with members of the Rat Pack like Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Though his law practice slowed, Malnik’s business practice picked up with gusto and panache. “I liked business, I had moved my mom and dad down here, and my brother, because he was ill in St. Louis. At this point, I had four kids, and we lived on Miami Beach on Collins Avenue, and life was good,” he says.
Malnik’s business savvy led to a deep-rooted interest in the South Beach area, which was ripe for opportunity despite having an entirely different continuity at the time.
“Seeing what happened to Miami Beach was amazing-the transition. South Beach was derelicts and bums. Literally, people sleeping in doorways and hallways, and the hotels were replete with retired, old people, who spent their time sitting outside on frayed chairs, almost like where elephants would go to wait to die. It was the most depressing site you could ever imagine,” he said.
Likewise, Malnik had seen the same dreary atmosphere take over the area surrounding his law office. “Lincoln Road, when I got here, was a fashionable place, but it had followed suit with what Miami Beach had turned into, so even though the building of the mall was supposed to revive it, it failed. Through the ’70s, Lincoln Road was a total disaster,” Malnik explains. “All the merchants of any stature had moved. Shopping centers became en vogue, Bal Harbour was built. The Beach was really suffering, and did so for a number of years-it was dangerous to walk down Lincoln Road at night. It was dangerous to walk down Collins or Ocean Drive, it was not well lit, and it was filled with mostly old people and an element of people who did not speak any English, who had illegally come into the country and had no money. It was a question of survival. Yet, you looked at this beautiful ocean and this beautiful beach, and you could never figure out how this came to this. It just made no sense at all.”
Ultimately, there was a great revival-and Malnik was spearheading it. In 1968, along with late partner and best friend Jay Weiss, Malnik opened The Forge-which is a grand institution of Miami to this day (though it is now masterfully owned and operated by Malnik’s son, Shareef)-after Weiss joked with the picky Malnik that the only way to end Malnik’s complaining (Malnik confesses to having never eaten fast food in his life) at restaurants would be by opening his own. After purchasing the Old Forge on 41st Street, Malnik wrecked it and built his own restaurant from the ground up, using his great taste for style to help create an ambiance that is as timeless as it is luxurious. One unforeseen problem: Success was not immediate.
“Within six months, they were saying, ‘It’s the greatest place to look at, but don’t eat there.’ Then I got back into the kitchen and reworked it and it took six or eight months, but it became very successful, and the bar was the hot place on Miami Beach, especially late at night, because celebrities would come over after their shows were over. At the same time, I had a place called the Penthouse on the 79th Street Causeway, and that place rocked and rolled till 5 in the morning.”
Malnik also opened Club 41, a membership-only restaurant located next to The Forge, as well as The Cricket Club in North Miami, a development and private club that was a smashing success in the 70s and 80s, eclipsing the Palm Bay and the Jockey as the hottest new residence. With the Miami Beach landscape forever changed for the better, Malnik focused his attention on a new challenge, one that opened many eyes.
Chapter IV Conquering the World, but Love Conquers All
After selling his interest in a variety of business holdings, Malnik ventured out to Saudi Arabia, where, despite his Jewish roots, he was accepted by Saudi Arabia’s royal family immediately. “It was unique, it was definitely an experience, being a Jewish kid from Miami Beach, residing in the royal palaces of Saudi Arabia, and, notwithstanding the many who disagree with what I’m about to say, but the group to which I became associated, the Royal Family, were without prejudice, and I very loudly declared that I was a Jew, though not a devoutly religious one, but proud of my heritage, and they were proud that I said that. I never received any discrimination, from the King or the Crown Prince. They were just a great group of people to be around. We traveled around for years, spent several years together.”
Meanwhile, son Shareef had already begun the transition of The Forge from 60s opulence to modern-day marvel, but not without some life lessons from his father.
“It’s absolutely necessary to think outside the box and be able to change,” Shareef says. “I’ve seen that in his life-the ability to change is so critical, and that’s what I’ll continue to do with The Forge. The world can’t change every time the wind blows, but it has to be relevant to today. The city is different from 40 years ago, when the Forge was founded, and there will be continued change.”
Upon his return, Malnik enjoyed various successes in real estate holdings, including some 4,000 apartments that he owned in San Diego, as well as shopping centers in South Florida-much of which he shrewdly sold off prior to the downturn of the real estate market. Yet, amid all of his various engagements, all this organized chaos, came perhaps the greatest and most cherished change to Malnik’s life: He found true love. “During the course of the days of being single, I encountered a young lady who stopped the clock for me-we met in 1991.” Enlisting the help of Hollywood film director Brett Ratner (whom Malnik lovingly calls his 11th son), Malnik aimed to impress this special woman, Nancy.
“I am blessed to have found the girl of my dreams. Nancy is the most amazing person, the most amazing wife, the most amazing mother. She is truly inspirational,” Malnik says, the love for his wife prevailing through his every word. With the help of Ratner, Malnik devised a way to capture Nancy’s heart. “In order to really impress her, my little godson had to make a movie for the film festivals, so we decided to make a movie that featured Nancy. So Shareef and the whole family, and Brett brought his whole crew from NYU down here, and I was living on a ranch that I had built in Boca Raton and we made a movie called The Good Life. Unfortunately, my plans for Nancy did not quite work out, because if she was going to sleep there, she insisted on having her mother and two sisters present on the ranch while we made the movie. But eventually, true love came to bloom, and in 1995 we were married. Thirteen years later, we have six more kids, which gives me a total of 11 if I’m going to include Brett.”
Malnik’s relationship with Ratner is one of mutual respect and love. “Brett is so special. Since Brett was a baby, he has been so special. And, seeing Brett grow up and achieve everything that he has-everyone thinks he’s at the top of his game, but I don’t. Brett is at the bottom of his game. Brett has so much more capabilities that he is going to find himself in his future achievements that are just amazing. Brett is so capable of not only directing or producing or writing, but he is also very capable of running, and ultimately owning a major studio.”
Their resulting bond also has led to some joint business ventures. “Brett and I are working on some documentaries together-we did one on Brett, and we’ll do a series with other directors. We are also planning some movies that might go directly to DVD, but that’s still in the planning stages.”

Malnik’s love and respect also extend to his 10 children, including son Shareef, who has taken The Forge to new levels since taking over 18 years ago-as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which the Malnik family has been instrumental, including Shareef’s role as chairman of the ball. “Shareef is really a great restaurateur. I had him, when he was 13 years old, cooking hash brown potatoes in the kitchen, working construction, busing tables, waiting on tables, he was a line cook. He’s done all of these things, and he’s mastered them, he can run a big kitchen, run a big operation, and he can execute it successfully and he’s demonstrated that. That’s why The Forge is doing the great business that it’s doing, plus he’s added the glamour element-the club element.”
Shareef adds: “I picked this up in my travels, that feel for being entertained at a fine restaurant, but I felt those were not mutually exclusive in the United States. I don’t want to be in a restaurant where you hear every spoon hit the saucer, and we are one of the creators of the entertainment aspect during dinner … fashion shows, beautiful people, great music, so that was an important feature. But, never forget that the most important part is food, wine, and service.”
Shareef also has plans for expansion: “The Forge has developed a loyal following of celebrities and world leaders, and the product has been refined and perfected. We want to take it to the next level, starting in Las Vegas, with top markets like Beijing, London, and New York City on the horizon. My goal is to give them the best restaurant in the world, which is elegant and opulent, and unmatched in food, wine, and service.” And that’s not all. Shareef has also branched out his restaurant business to the casual dining experience, with a theme based around “the most important athlete in the country-with the right kind of image to be associated with.” Shareef plans to start with five locations in the state of Florida, using the same methodology of appealing to the customers’ senses that has made The Forge the enormous success it is today.
As for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Al Malnik’s involvement has been life changing-literally. As the foundation’s principal benefactors, Malnik and his wife Nancy have made a lasting impact on countless courageous children. “They literally bring the child back to life by granting a wish,” the grateful Malnik remarks. “They really do. We saw it.”
Of course, says Shareef, the experience is even more rewarding, especially after the situation hit the Malnik family close to home.
“As significant and important as it was, I realized how important Make-A-Wish was when my little brother Jarod was diagnosed with leukemia right when I took over the ball,” Shareef explains. “We were doing this anyway, and as much as you feel for other people’s kids, which is why we do this, let me tell you I have so much more respect because I experienced that. Today, Jarod is cancer-free; he’s been in remission for three years. That’s why Make-A-Wish was always important, but now that’s even more relevant.”
What’s more, much like Jarod, Make-A-Wish is stronger than ever, having raised more than $6 million in the 13 years that the Malniks have held the ball at the Hotel Intercontinental. With the help of Make-A-Wish of Southern Florida CEO Norm Wedderburn and Hotel Intercontinental GM Jack Miller, Shareef says, “The ball last year broke every record, it’s the biggest Make-A-Wish in the United States. We sell out six months in advance. That should give us significant success in the future, as we represent the premier ball.”
Listening to Shareef, one immediately senses the same drive and dedication that took his father to unknown heights of success-success that ranges from the opening of the Jay Weiss Center at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine (in honor of his late best friend) to the Malnik Family Sports Facility at Boca Raton’s St. Andrew School. And, it is this sense of pride in the success of his family and ability to help others that shows what makes Al Malnik so truly special-and his desire to share the life lessons of hard work with his children. With a kind heart and sharp mind, Malnik has succeeded to the highest levels in family and business, leaving his legacy to be lifted by his progeny. There is no doubt that the title bestowed upon him by the Daily Sun still rings very true today: Success story.

Behind the Mask – The Private Life of Michael Jackson

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

As Told to Stephanie Wilson by Alvin Malnik
Cover Photo by Tatijana Shoan

As soon as the untimely and sudden death of superstar Michael Jackson hit the airwaves, the rumors began flying. From the highly suspicious to the utterly ludicrous, falsehoods spread through the media like wildfire. Michael Jackson-a superstar with unmatched talent and charisma, a national treasure under a glaring global spotlight from the time he was 10 years old-was an incredibly private person. And though millions revered the man behind the pop-king mask, few really knew him.

Al Malnik, the famous lawyer, businessman, and restaurateur whom Haute Living referred to as a “Living Legend” during our cover profile in the January/February 2008 Miami edition, was one of the few people whom Michael trusted wholeheartedly. In fact, Malnik is the godfather of Michael’s youngest son, Blanket, a piece of reality that got twisted and misconstrued in the weeks following his death. The rumor mill warped the truth so much that it was claimed that Malnik was actually the biological father of Blanket-a completely fabricated falsehood. Malnik appeared on The Today Show to answer the claims, which he called a “Ripley event,” considering he didn’t meet Blanket until the boy was a year old. Speaking out for only the second time since Michael’s passing, Al Malnik shares his personal history with Michael Jackson with Haute Living in hopes of setting the record straight about the private life of this public figure.

Alvin Malnik speaks about Michael Jackson and their relationship

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Al Malnik Interview with Merideth Viera on the Today Show 070109

MV- You know, I look at the images you have offered to share with us this morning, both still photos and the videos, and its clear that yours was a place where Michael felt he could come and relax and take the masks off his children, both literally and figuratively. What are some of the fondest memories of the time he spent with you and your family?

AM- Well, there are so many stories. As I’m sitting here I just thought of one. At a dining room table, which is sitting right next to me, we were having dinner one night and Michael mentioned how fond he was of Louis Armstrong,  and I said Michael, that’s extraordinary that you said that, because the dining table here, that we’re having dinner on, was once Louis Armstrong’s table and chairs in New Orleans. He broke down and sobbed. Michael was filled with humility, sensitivity, reverence and respect for anyone and everyone. And most of all the love that he had for his kids equalled the love that he had for his fans.  He just was a guy that was beyond amazing and it’s just sad to hear all the spurious stories that have been created about him.

MV- You know, Alvin, I’m struck by the photos, or the video actually, that was shown in Mike’s piece that was taken at that supermarket. You took Michael Jackson to a market in the middle of the night so he could do what everybody else does normally, just go shopping, and how much fun he had there. And it seemed to point out to me how isolated he must have been in his daily life to get such a thrill out of this. Did he ever talk to you about the loneliness he felt?

AM- He said loneliness is part of his obligation, because he really felt he had a God given talent that he was required to share with the world. And that’s what he did, and a part of that was for his personal loneliness to suffer. He was well equipped and agreed to do that.

MV- You know, I get the sense looking again at these images that his children seem well adjusted, at least the pictures show them to be well adjusted. Is that the way they came across to you?

AM- Not only well adjusted,…great story- You know I asked him, I said to my staff you have a lot of extra work with the kids staying here, do we need some extra work efforts on your part? They said there isn’t any extra effort. Michael’s kids clean their rooms, they make up their beds, polish the mirrors and they take care of everything, and he (Michael Jackson) said that’s the way I bring up my kids and that’s exactly what they did. Each and every morning Michael’s children, their first chores before breakfast were to clean their rooms.

MV- Are you concerned about the kids welfare right now? I mean they just lost the only parent they’ve ever known.

AM- Yes I am, but I think the Jackson family love these children just as they loved Michael, and I have no doubt at the end of the day the kids are going to be fine and they’re going to be well provided for.

MV- You know Al, there were reports that at one point you had claimed to be Blanket’s biological father. Do you want to set the record straight here this morning?

AM- (Laughs) Yes, it would be very interesting (for people) to realize that I didn’t meet Blanket until he was two years old, so that would really qualify as a Ripley (Believe It or Not) event, I think. Of course I’m not the biological father.

Before Miami Beach Alvin Malnik Was Schooled In The Midwest???

Thursday, April 9th, 2009
Soldan International Schooled a Young Alvin Malnik

Soldan International Schooled a Young Alvin Malnik

It’s only right that St. Louis-born entrepreneur, Alvin I. Malnik, hails from a place that has experienced as much change as his future business destination – Miami Beach.  Born in 1933, Malnik began his public school education at Clark Elementary School and graduated from Soldan High School in 1950.
The St. Louis public school system enjoyed a century of firsts:  Central High, opened in 1853, and was the first public high school west of the Mississippi;  Sumner High School, opened in 1875 was the first public high school for Black students west of the Mississippi, and the first public Kindergarten in North America opened in St. Louis in 1873.
During the 1900s St. Louis continued with their list of “firsts” when the Educational Museum, which featured articles purchased from the 1904 World’s Fair Palace of Education, opened in 1905.  In  1943 the museum turned into the the first audiovisual department in the United States.

Washington University Is Where Al Malnik Picked Up Some Business Skills

Washington University Is Where Al Malnik Picked Up Some Business Skills

The internationally known entrepreneur continued his education at Washington University in St. Louis.  Malnik graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the university in 1954 before relocating to South Florida to attend law school at the University of Miami.

Father And Son Business – Alvin Malnik and Shareef

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Alvin and Shareef Malnik – Decades of Business Success is a Family Affair

Challenging, tricky, and complex; father-son business duos are all three.  If a high level of success and accomplishments are mitigating factors in increased challenges for family run businesses, than Alvin Malnik and Shareef Malnik should certainly have their fair share and more.

Alvin Malnik’s personal, business and philanthropic accomplishments are well known, and the list of his business ventures – restaurants, real estate, art collections, and steadily growing companies – grows daily. But by all accounts, the father and son team seem to be the exception to the rule.   If Shareef Malnik were just following behind his father Al Malnik, the footsteps would be enormous – almost too big to fill.

But both Al Malnik and Shareef Malnik agree that there is no following – they walk side-by-side, sharing a mutual respect for the knowledge, integrity and dedication each brings to the table.

Take The Forge.  Purchased and transformed in the late 1960s by Alvin Malnik, the establishment was as much a reflection of his personality as it was a place to dine, see and be seen, and mingle with celebrities, politicians, and prominent community members.  The Forge was a wonderful example of world-class dining in an elegant and lavish setting.

When Al Malnik handed over control of The Forge to his son Shareef Malnik he had 100 percent confidence in his son’s ability to continue the venue’s success.  With full reign to run with his ideas, Shareef’s transformation of The Forge was as much a reflection of his own personality as his father’s vision had been decades before.

For any other father-son team it wouldn’t have been easy – a father watching his son change the dream he had built from the ground up.  But when Shareef took the helm, Miami Beach was experiencing a rebirth, and Al was confident his son would find opportunity within the change.

As wealthy jet-setters picked Miami Beach as their destination of choice, Shareef Malnik drew from his rowdy, wild-side days of off-shore power boat and Porsche racing and tempered that with his suave demeanor, good looks and the undeniably charming side of his personality to turn the Forge into a hip, international hot-spot.

Today stretch limos line the curb in front of The Forge, and entrance lines snake around the building.   Shareef Malnik’s personality is evident throughout the venue, and his ideas transformed The Forge into the trendy, popular and high-energy club it is today.  Like father like son.
How do they do it?  They share a bond grounded in mutual respect for family, and a strong sense of commitment to persevering even during difficult times.  Each credits the other’s contributions, as quickly as they speak of their own.
Both Alvin Malnik and Shareef Malnik share a sense of overwhelming pride, inspiration, business knowledge, and above all else – trust.

Alvin Malnik’s Decedent Dynasty – THE FORGE

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Seated at a prime table in the main dining salon with six of his guests, Shareef Malnik momentarily disengages from the group’s lively conversation and gazes around the opulently appointed dining room, as a sinful hint of satisfaction comes over his face. And justifiably so, for it is his restaurant, The Forge, that has, for the last thirty-three years, maintained its position as Miami Beach’s premier destination for dining decadence.

The Forge is an American icon, a throwback to the lavish excesses of Hollywood in the 1930s and Monte Carlo in the 50s. It is a temple built to the gods of wine, women and song, and tonight is right on track to become just one more memorable night of dining and dancing madness set to a score of too much of everything too much food, too much wine, too much hedonism.
The story of Shareef Malnik’s Forge is the story of a Miami Beach dynasty.

The cast of characters at The Forge on this particular Wednesday night is straight out of a 1930′s MGM movie tables full of tourists from New York and Buenos Aires; local politicians smoking cigars and hamming it up; a South Beach nightclub owner and his entourage dropping-in for a visit; a few tables full of individuals who could teach the Sopranos a thing or two about business; and, of course, there are the ladies, young and lovely ladies from fiery Latinas to statuesque Nordic beauties, all dressed to the nines, with cocktails in hand.

The Forge Bar area which separates three adjoining dining salons, Pamela Canellas and the Hot Jam dancers are up on stage dressed in flowing white outfits and gyrating wildly to the frantic salsa/disco mix that permeates all of Miami nightlife. With waiters rushing from table to table throughout the five dining rooms and with large numbers of people simply dancing in the aisles, The Forge is indeed hitting on all cylinders tonight. Its English oak paneling, impossibly high ceilings, large Tiffany stained-glass panels and bare-brick walls radiate a stately ambiance of old Europe, but the parade of Jaguars and Roll Royces lined-up out front are a testament to its hedonistic popularity. To understand The Forge’s appel d’hédonisme requires an understanding of the strong personalities behind it: the man who originally created it Alvin Malnik, and the man who now controls it Shareef Malnik.

The predecessor of the modern-day Forge was a blacksmith’s forge built in the early 1920s by Dino Phillips, who designed decorative iron gates and sculptures for wealthy Miami Beach families such as the Firestones and Vanderbilts. In the early 1930s Phillips transformed his shop into an elegant dining/dancing supper club and gambling casino where wealthy Miami socialites dined and danced under the stars in the outdoor garden area.

In 1968, after years of neglect the original restaurant/casino fell into disrepair and was purchased by Shareef’s father, Alvin Malnik, a young Florida attorney. Alvin Malnik immediately embarked on a million-dollar makeover of the restaurant that reflected his love of European art and architecture. Original Dalis, Rousseaus framing a sconce from Napoleon’s bed chamber and antique tapestries were set throughout.

Al Malnik’s re-designed Forge opened its doors in March of 1969 and was immediately heralded as Miami’s most glamorous destination filled with visiting celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton and Judy Garland. Politicos such as Richard Nixon and financier Bebe Reboso were also frequent guests, and, yes, Meyer Lansky and the boys were often seen dining at The Forge. As a matter of fact, it was upstairs in the original casino area in 1977 where Meyer Lansky’s stepson, Richard Schwartz, shot Craig Teriaca, son of an alleged underworld figure, after a quarrel over $10. (Three months later Schwartz was found murdered in his Cadillac behind The Inside Restaurant on the Bay Harbor Islands.)

The crowning achievement of The Forge was always its wine cellar, an eight-room, underground facility containing more than 300,000 bottles of the world’s finest vintages. Among the rarest, which are secured behind floor-to-ceiling iron gates, are a 1792 Madeira and an 1822 Chateau Lafite Rothschild the later worth an estimated $150,000. So impressive is The Forge’s wine cellar, that French financier and noted oenophile, Baron Elie de Rothchild once donated bottles from his private collection after visiting restaurant.

Al Malnik’s colorful history in Miami Beach is a matinee-quality storyline that earned him huge financial returns. But, big returns don’t come without big risks. Malnik has also apparently been a positive influence on Miami Beach’s Brett Ratner, director of “Red Dragon” and Jackie Chan’s “Rush Hour.” The relationship is sometimes described as that of “a father figure and mentor.”

Alvin Malnik often donates to his alma mater, the University of Miami, and most recently, Al and his wife Nancy were honored as lifetime benefactors by the Make A Wish foundation during a lavish ceremony at the 8th Annual Hotel Inter-Continental Ball in Miami.

Even though questions still remain unanswered, two things are absolutely indisputable: first, through a series of real estate developments from Florida to California, and associations with powerful individuals, Al Malnik has amassed a serious sum of money throughout his lifetime, and is now enjoying the fruits of his labor in a 35,000 square foot beach-front villa, Beaux Arts Mansion, in Ocean Ridge, Florida, and secondly he created one hell of a restaurant.

8/2/91 Alvin Malnik Vows To Rebuild The Forge

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Irony of ironies: It was apparently the $125,000 wine-by-the-glass dispenser Alvin Malnik put in six months ago to make his wines more accessible to the public that nearly destroyed his $10 million wine cellar and the entire Forge Restaurant he had spent the past 22 years creating.  At least that’s Al Malnik’s belief.  Federal, state and Miami Beach investigators said they aren’t sure what caused the Wednesday morning fire at the landmark Miami Beach restaurant, but they do not suspect arson.

Al Malnik was distraught.  “It’s just awful.  The Pharmacy (dining room) is just completely destroyed.  It’s just so personal with me.  I designed and built every inch of it.”

The Forge, Miami Beach, Al Malnik

The Forge, Miami Beach, Al Malnik

He said the loss was not insured.  “I’m a self-insured guy.”

But he vowed to rebuild quickly, with his own money.  In fact, Malnik’s son, Shareef, 33, said the restaurant might reopen “within days” with at least half of its dining rooms back in business.

In its early days the restaurant attracted such celebrities as Arthur Godfrey, Judy Garland, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra and gossip columnist Walter Winchell. Former president Richard Nixon also was a customer.

More recently under Malnik’s ownership, it attracted Richard Burton and Pia Zadora, and director Brian DePalma shot several scenes for his movie Scarface inside the ornate dining rooms.  Investigators put damage at $7 million.  Shareef Malnik called it “nowhere near that,” and said seven of the restaurant’s nine dining rooms suffered no more than smoke damage.  The 300,000-bottle wine cellar and museum were untouched by flames, and its usual 62-degree temperature never rose above 70, even though its electricity was out for several hours, he said.

He illustrated the point with an hour-long guided tour.  The Pharmacy dining room was a soggy mass of shattered glass and charred timbers.  Its dome-shaped, stained glass ceiling had collapsed in thousands of pieces onto the long, granite Moroccan table and 10 high-back chairs from the estate of heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.

Miraculously, in the Sports Room 10 feet away, neatly folded cloth napkins on the tables were not even scorched.  The room’s 30-foot high, domed, stained-glass ceiling and collection of 19th Century European sports posters were intact.

“No fire is good,” Shareef Malnik said, “but we’re feeling pretty thankful.”

In the Cabaret a few feet away, the Cruvinet wine system, a 120-bottle dispenser that served wine by the glass from $4.50 to $39, tilted crazily, its wiring ripped out from the back wall.  The fire apparently began there and traveled through a false ceiling to the Pharmacy dining room, he said. The rest of the restaurant – the Main Dining Room, with its colorful Beardsley Rousseau parrot mural, was smoky but intact, as were the Gallery, with its life-size bronze goddess statue by John Nast, and the Library, with its 1907 Tiffany window and 250-year old crystal chandelier from James Madison’s White House.

Plunging into the wine cellar with a flashlight, Shareef showed that the 1822 Chateau Lafite Rothschild listed on the wine list at $75,000 was undamaged, as were the 1929 Chateau Haut-Batailley, the 1962 Chateau Margaux and 1797 Madeira.  The room was cool, not smoky.

The elder Malnik vowed to recover.  “The Forge represents 22 years of my life.  It will be back, resplendent in every way, better than ever.”

Al Malnik and Larry King at it again

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

A younger Larry King. © Ray Fisher

“Yes, I knew Larry King… And I think I still have the NSF–nonsufficient funds–checks to prove it.”
–Al Malnik, Attorney