Fans of the HBO hit series “Entourage” will recall a moment in Season 4 when Hollywood superagent Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, is overcome with emotion while explaining to his son Jonah that he didn’t get into the same private school as his best friend.
“Daddy,” Jonah asks as Ari’s eyes well up with tears, “Am I going to school with Daren Hornig next year? Cause I really, really want to.”
The name Jonah mentions may ring a bell for those who follow New York’s real estate market. It’s a reference to none other than Daren Hornig – managing partner of Long Island-based investment firm Hornig Capital Partners, and a childhood friend of “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin.
Hornig and Ellin bonded as teenagers at John F. Kennedy High School in the Long Island suburb of Bellmore, and have remained close ever since. Naturally, the developer attended the New York premiere of “Entourage” last week at the Paris Theatre in Midtown. The movie opens nationwide June 3.
“Truth be told, he’s better friends with my wife [who also went to Bellmore JFK],” Hornig told The Real Deal of his relationship with Ellin. “I’m a year older than him and my wife, but over the last 30 years we’ve become very friendly. When we go to [Los Angeles], we hang with him in LA. When he comes to New York, we go out to dinner with him here.”
For Hornig, watching “Entourage” was an exercise in reliving the adolescence that he, Ellin and their friends — a crew that included ESPN’s crackerjack NFL reporter Adam Schefter and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank executive managing director Laurence Bank — knew in Long Island. The show, which ended in 2011, revolved around fictional movie star Vincent Chase and his band of childhood friends from Queens as they navigated the world of Hollywood, and Ellin used the story to insert numerous cultural homages to the New York metro region.
“He was very creative in the structure of ‘Entourage,’ to tie in things in our life growing up in [Long Island] in the script,” Hornig said. He pointed to an arc in the show that featured iconic Queens restaurant Don Peppe as an example – calling it Ellin’s “Favorite Italian Place” in New York – and estimated that Ellin “probably name-dropped 20” of their childhood friends in various “Entourage” episodes over the show’s duration, including Hornig’s wife Audra.
Hornig Capital’s recent moves include partnering with Savanna to acquire a large office building in the South Bronx’s Mott Haven section for $31 million. The firm also teamed up with Savanna on the $36 million purchase of a development site at 95 Evergreen Avenue in Bushwick last year.
A former residential broker who eventually made the leap to commercial real estate, Hornig worked briefly for Jericho-based real estate investment firm Metropolitan Realty Associates before starting his own operation in 2013.
“I’m always focused on what’s next [and] where are the emerging markets,” he said of his firm’s approach. “The pricing is too high, for me, in the vast majority of Manhattan, [so we’re] looking at the emerging markets – predominantly Brooklyn, Queens, the Long Island City area and we’re doing a lot in the Bronx right now. I think if you’re creative and have some vision on how these markets will eventually mature, that’s the place to be.”
As for the “Entourage” movie – which Ellin wrote and directed – Hornig said that while he’s not a critic, he’d “give it five stars.”
“I think if you saw the show and liked the show, it was consistent with the theme of a bunch of guys living the Hollywood dream,” he said.