Nancy Dorman-Hickson 2016-12-08 03:49:26
WHAT HAPPENED IN LAS VEGAS DIDN’T STAY IN LAS VEGAS— AND IN THIS CASE, SAN DIEGO’S ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS ARE THE BETTER FOR IT. Clique Hospitality founder and San Diego native Andy Masi enjoys a stellar reputation for creating high-end venues with exceptional service that are fun, not stuffy. Among the 20- to 30-something crowd, restaurants, lounges and nightclubs developed by Masi and company tend to galvanize trends rather than follow them. A key player within the Las Vegas hospitality community, Masi and his team recently brought their talents to San Diego, an area the entertainment guru knows like only a local does. Clique Hospitality is behind three new offerings at Pendry San Diego: Lionfish, a dinner-only coastal cuisine restaurant; Oxford Social Club, a nightclub with an attention-to-detail cocktail program; and Pool House, an open-air rooftop lounge with starry views of the buzzing Gaslamp Quarter. “San Diego is an incredible city with a great vibe,” Masi says. “Every day the city becomes more relevant. It’s relaxed, unpretentious and a good-time town.” Although the city offers some great spots, Masi contends, “There are no hip and elegant spots to get a drink and have fun and still have the energy of a nightclub environment. We’re going to add that.” The key to creating a successful venue is to home in on your audience, discover what’s missing for them and provide it, Masi says. “Who is the guest we want to attract? What type of food do they want? What kind of cocktails? Are craft beers important to them? We create experiences for people that aren’t presently offered,” he explains. “The Gen[eration] X and Gen Y crowds are looking for something that is fun, but they don’t want a traditional white tablecloth environment,” he continues. “It is really taking [entertainment] to the level of luxury, but turning it in a way that is more attractive to the locale.” Over the years, Masi has honed his philosophy and process, most recently using his experience to drive decisions about Lionfish, Oxford Social Club and Pool House. “We asked, ‘How do you create incredible, luxurious, modern culture cuisine, but still keep it fun and cool and hip and relevant?’ ” Masi says. “How do we shape or create these venues that target gaps for people who are looking for something different in San Diego?” He gets answers by bringing in “like-minded people who are the target market,” he explains. Often, the group includes people who work at the venues—the chef, waitstaff, marketers, etc. “Collaboration with everyone involved helps create and fine-tune the concept. The real key is execution. It’s finding all of these different talents and getting them to work together for the end product.” Masi describes himself as “hands-on” in developing a venue idea, from menu items to music to decor and beyond, drawing inspiration from his own experiences, whether it’s running across a “wonderful dish and how it’s plated” or “a sophisticated chandelier or glassware” to add to his “catalog of unique things.” When discussing Clique’s collaboration with San Diego’s new Pendry Hotel, Masi describes the two entities as “a great fit. Pendry is trying to create exactly what we want to do. A lot of hotels have wonderful layouts, but they are not following through on the promise of giving you something unique with a high level of service.” For Masi, Pendry Hotels delivers on that promise. “What we want to do is create the overall experience from top to bottom,” Masi says, “a curated experience every step along the way, from your first hello to your first drink to the food to the music.” Do all of that, he says, and the experience “becomes more than just another night out.”
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