Hotel / Catering

Concept restaurants offer a taste of authenticity

by Lou Henry

Clayton Parker, managing director
Eclipse Management Limited
Photo: Wallace Chan

A melange of nationalities coexist in Hong Kong, each boasting unique dishes and dining experiences

As global travel becomes easier every day, exposure to authentic international cuisine increases, leading to heightened demand for palate-pleasing authenticity.

As a result of such growing internationalism, authentic dining is a concept people value, explains Clayton Parker, managing director, Eclipse Management Limited. "At our restaurants, customers are aware of what to expect. This is not to say there are no surprises. It simply means each restaurant delivers what is anticipated. We create places and atmosphere people appreciate, adding our own spin to make them memorable," Mr Parker adds.

Concept dining

With eight different cuisines across 13 outlets, Eclipse offers casual to fine dining, catering to a diverse clientele. Its restaurants are peppered throughout Hong Kong attracting predominantly English-speaking Chinese people, expatriates and business travellers.

Further afield in Macau, Eclipse has three restaurants in the Venetian hotel and customers there generally fall into two major groups: MICE (meeting, incentive, conference, event) attendees and high-income weekend travellers from nearby locations such as Shanghai and Singapore.

The conceptual delivery varies for Eclipse's many different establishments. For instance, its pubs are straightforward, serving drinks and quality pub meals. "If you make a pub too funky, your regular customers quickly rein you in," Mr Parker notes. "So we cater to our clients' expectations and they take a certain element of comfort in that."

Eclipse's Spanish tapas and wine bars, however, typically cater to a different crowd and thus have an alternative feel. "The clientele is more sophisticated and the concept reflects that," he remarks.

To market its restaurants Eclipse utilises standard practices and channels, primarily focusing on enhancing customer experience. "We do traditional marketing and advertising but that may only attract people once. From then on the execution of the concept, service levels, choice of menus and the pricing will do the rest," Mr Parker says. Eclipse concentrates on getting these aspects right, ensuring customers come back again and again.

Right vibes

To support further expansion and ensure the company's ongoing success, Eclipse is currently looking for talented people. "We can't do this alone," Mr Parker stresses. "People make or break your business, especially in hospitality."

For entry-level positions Mr Parker says the job is mostly about attitude: "We don't look so much at resumes but instead the glint in an applicant's eye, the smile and the enthusiasm projected." He adds that there are many leadership and managerial opportunities for people who can take the initiative and demonstrate maturity as well as a great attitude.

One exciting career possibility at Eclipse is the chance to work in other Eclipse restaurants outside Hong Kong. "Macau is a viable option, "Mr Parker states. "There is a growing Hong Kong community over there, the language is identical and the atmosphere is exciting and dynamic."

Eclipse invests in its staff and runs daily training programmes for them, aiming to keep the job interesting. The high staff retention rate is a clear indicator of employee satisfaction. Mr Parker says the immediate need to recruit is solely a result of further expansion plans.

"The hospitality industry is often seen as easy to enter and positions are sometimes temporary but we're really looking for people who truly want to work in the business," Mr Parker remarks. For dedicated people who have what it takes, Eclipse offers a stimulating environment with competitive benefits and opportunities to climb the career ladder. "You must like people, otherwise don't even think about entering the industry. We work in real time and you can't hide behind a computer," he advises.


Taken from Career Times 15 February 2008
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