Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Good things come in three’s

Posted by Kimberly on November 18, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
November 18, 2007 (575 words)

With every eye on the Cotai strip and proprietors wanting to get in while they still can, Eclipse Restaurant Group’s Clayton Parker is already there with not one, but three Venetian establishments.

With McSorley’s Ale House already open since August as well as Bocca Tapas Wine Bar, and the Brazilian steak house Fogo Samba’s opening launch to be held November 23, the Hong Kong-based businessman has made the decision to relocate to Macau to have a more hands-on role with his properties.

“I believe in the Macau story and in Cotai and the Venetian,” said the 45-year-old, adding that the draw-card of the Venetian was the reason he came to Macau.

Asked about the number of establishments, he said, “three restaurants seem like I have al my eggs in the one basket and a significant investment, but we’re just getting started.

“I want to be a major player in Macau, and I’d like to have 2-3 outlets in every integrated resort on the Cotai strip!” he added.

Speaking about McSorley’s, Clayton describes it as more “Victorian” in keeping with the theme of the Venetian.

“We didn’t feel a country pub style would be appropriate. We wanted something richer, with mahogany, lots of rich leather sofas,” he said.

Irish pubs, he continued, were popular with all races, where it was low key and everyone was treated the same.

Despite his love for all his restaurants, he feels it’s the 255-seat Fogo Samba that is “the jewel in the crown.”

An established concept in Brazil, the idea is to provide an all-you-can-eat appetiser and salad deal.

“After that, the buffet comes to you, with 15 different cuts of meat, that are brought to the table.

“The pace of the meat is controlled by a green card for “yes” and a red for “don’t bother,” he said.

Back to McSorley’s it’s already attracted the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and the NBA team during their recent Macau tours, while production launches have also been held there.

Of course, with three restaurants to manage, Clayton has thrice the problems of available and good staff.

“Finding good people in Macau is everyone’s biggest challenge,” he said, adding that, “ you can have the right product but without the right people it won’t work.”

Considering the casual environment of his restaurants, one would be surprised to find that Clayton’s roots, while Kentucky, also include a beginning in cordon bleu, having been an apprentice at Maxim’s Paris, and then getting his first paid job in the establishment’s New York outlet. In 1995 he set up his company, Eclipse Restaurant Group, having amalgamated experience in all areas of the restaurant including “waiting tables, bartending” and everything in between.

“After working in all these areas and then back to operations, I’d felt I’d come full circle and covered all bases,” he said.

The beginning was not easy though, as he admitted, “there were months where I didn’t receive a salary and I questioned whether I was doing the right thing,.”

The same went with the Venetian, with him adding, “if we knew we were going to have so many issues, we may have thought twice, but I knew it wasn’t going to be a straight-forward project.”

In the end, a commitment to the Venetian and the Cotai strip is a long term one and with three fingers already in the Macau pie, another two surely aren’t out of the question.

 

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