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Home > FINE DINING > Las Vegas Fine Dining > Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare > Conversations with Chefs
Paul Bartolotta (Part 4 of 6)
"[In the book Blue Ocean Strategy] they said that Cirque du Soleil's success derives from the fact that they took the circus environment, which they knew was popular. They knew that present day kids were more interested in sports and game boys and such. They knew there was a whole movement against cruelty to animals; it was no longer chic to be whipping the elephant. They knew the cost of moving the circus around became prohibitive. The circus industry was dying. Cirque du Soleil, on the other hand, said, 'Wait a second.' They took those facts and said, 'Let's do extraordinary things with people, not with animals. Let's add more show and spectacle to it. Let's still have it in an arena, but let's put some of them in a permanent place so we can make it more spectacular than a road show. Instead of only gearing to children, which is an infinitely smaller segment of the market; let's go after 12 and above, and the parents. Let's keep the clowns and the humor in it, but let's make it sensual. Instead of charging $30 we'll charge $100.' They took an idea, but looked at it through a completely different lens, a different set of eyes, in a different context. They ended up not competing against the other circus, which was dying, and fighting for market share. They realized there's a whole new market that the market didn't even know existed."

"When I say 'originate,' it doesn't have to be a brand new idea or never thought of, but you can put it into a framework in the implementation stage. You take this with all the right elements, and it's born out of your spontaneity to make it something that you hand to your staff to live it every day."

"Steve Wynn is the quintessential originator; that's what he loves to do. In my case, he actually was not as much as part of the origination as he was of the design of the restaurant. I presented it to him; he saw my commitment and my passion. While I'm not necessarily sure he thought it was the right thing for his place, it was the 12th hour and he either needed to change or go with it. Clearly, he had the vision to say, 'Go do it.' He believed in me and he put what it took to make it happen because it would not happen otherwise. It would have been much easier and safer to do a restaurant like other people had done before. He didn't want that. He wanted what no one else had, and he was willing to take the chance."

Steve Wynn did, indeed, take a chance on Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, and the results is a restaurant that Chef Bartolotta loves. His favorite part? "Clearly the favorite aspect of my current restaurant is my fish," he says.

If he had to look at it from a systemic standpoint, though, Chef Bartolotta's favorite thing would probably be the restaurant’s ambience. "Roger Thomas and Steve Wynn designed one of the most incredibly romantic, beautiful, comfortable [restaurants]," he says. "The cabana areas, with my little laguna out there, just really transport you to the Italian coast. It's very remarkable and true brilliance."

"My father told me a long time ago that it takes money. He said, 'True artistic freedom is born out of economic freedom.' Steve Wynn built me this amazing restaurant. It was the support of the entire Wynn organization that allowed me to do what I'm doing, to get this fish here and to really bring this very abstract thing to a reality. When we first opened, I joked and repeated my dad’s quote and said that artistic freedom is born out of economic freedom, and then I ad libbed it and said, 'Even Michaelangelo needed the Pope.' So, I found my Pope."

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