As the founder of LA Tan, Nick Patel has built an empire of lights. With more than 160 locations around the country (and 60 in Chicago alone), his locally based company serves more than one million customers each month, making it the Midwest’s largest tanning chain and among the top three in the nation.
But as sizzling weather approaches, Patel is thinking beyond the bulb: This season he has invested in state-of-the-art spray tanning technology imported from Italy, which “gives the perfect bronze color that customers are looking for,” he says. “When the first spray tan machine came out, it didn’t give the best color. People got blotchy and orange, but it’s evolved, and now the top machine is the Autobronzer,” he says, adding that it’s available in nearly all of his locations.
Patel isn’t just out to give people a healthy glow — he also wants to give them the energy to do the things they love. That’s why he created Berry Boost Energy, an all-natural drink made with 30 fruits and berries that’s sold exclusively at his tanning salons. “I don’t drink any artificial energy drinks, so everything in Berry Boost Energy is plant-based, including the caffeine and sugars,” he says. Patel’s green diet is tried and true: He learned it from his 106-year-old grandmother, who still lives with him in his Morton Grove home.
Here, Chicago’s sunshine king sheds light on his perfect Sunday.
8 a.m. During the week, Patel is always up in time to watch the sunrise, but on Sundays he “sleeps in.” “I wake up at 8 a.m. because I’m always partying every Saturday until 3 a.m.,” he jokes. His favorite nighttime haunts? American Junkie (above, 15 W. Illinois) and Paris Club (59 W. Hubbard)
11 a.m. He hits his in-home gym for an hour of free weights.
3 p.m. Since his weekdays are packed with business, Patel schedules a second “lunch” to host social gatherings. He loves the guacamole at Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie) and the outdoor patio at Quartino (626 N. State).
7 p.m. To unwind, Patel heads back to where it all began: his first office on Devon Street’s “Desi Corridor,” which he converted into a hangout spot with big-screen TVs. “My close friends come and we chill and have nice food, drink scotch and watch any type of game,” Patel says.
Story by Zak Stemer | Main photo by Ramzi Dreessen