Nazarian was born to a Persian Jewish family in Tehran in 1975. The Nazarian family immigrated to the United States following the Iranian Revolution. He is the son of Younes Nazarian who made a fortune along with his brother Izak Parviz Nazarian as an early investor in Qualcomm. He was raised in Beverly Hills, California where he attended Beverly Hills High School and later studied at the University of Southern California.
His first entrepreneurial venture was in 1998, when he founded Platinum Wireless, a telecommunications business specializing in the distribution of Nextel software. Within one year of its founding, Platinum Wireless was the number one Nextel distributor in Southern California. He then entered the world of real estate by diversifying his family's assets into real estate holdings, beginning with the establishment of 3Wall Development in 1999. Under Sam's guidance 3Wall became one of Southern California's largest owners of multi-family housing.
SBE owns several Los Angeles nightclubs and lounges: Create, Greystone Manor, Emerson, Hyde, XIV, Colony, Eden, MyHouse, MyStudio and The Abbey. As clubs tend to wane in popularity quickly, Nazarian typically only keeps his clubs open for eight months to a year, closes them for extensive renovations, and then reopens them (often under a new name, preferably short) to keep the brand fresh. SBE generally owns each of its venues outright giving it the flexibility to quickly adjust to the vagaries of the market. These venues continue to see a high level of popularity and celebrity patronage, as well as being frequently visited by the characters of HBO's Entourage. Nazarian made an appearance as himself greeting the main characters of the show in the episode "No Cannes Do". Nazarian's SBE brand has also been featured on episodes of The Hills. Nazarian owns the Hyde Lounge at Staples Center in Los Angeles and he also owns the Hyde at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. In 2014, SBE agreed to lease the top two floors of 5900 Wilshire, a skyscraper in Los Angeles, CA.
He has secured partnerships with Philippe Starck and chefs Katsuya Uechi, José Andrés and Michael Mina. His partnership with Katsuya and Starck resulted in the restaurant Katsuya, with locations in Brentwood, Hollywood, Glendale, downtown Los Angeles and downtown San Diego. XIV, in partnership with Chef Michael Mina, opened on the Sunset Strip in October 2008. Nazarian opened The Bazaar with José Andrés, which is integrated into SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, in 2008. SBE is also invested in hamburger chain Umami Burger. Nazarian also owns 800 Degrees Pizza.
Redbury Hollywood, Redbury South Beach and Redbury New York.
In May 2016, SBE acquired Morgans Hotel Group which owns or operates 13 boutique hotels, including New York’s Hudson, the Mondrian in Los Angeles and the Delano in Miami Beach. SBE will now own or operate 20 hotels, including properties under the flagship SLS brand.
In 2014 Nazarian was named to Fortune's 40 Under 40 list. In 2006 Nazarian was honored as the youngest executive to be named one of the "Top 100 Most Powerful People in Southern California" by West, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and was named among "The Influentials.". He serves on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Institute of Architecture. The Beverly Hills High School basketball court was renamed Sam Nazarian Court after the 1993 Beverly Hills High School graduate Sam Nazarian donated $200,000 to the Beverly Hills Athletic Alumni Association. In July 2009, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Nazarian to the Board of Airport Commissioners of Los Angeles World Airports. Nazarian was recently honored with the Mondavi Wine & Food award and named the "Hotelier of the Year" two years in a row by .