Coby Cooper assumed management of the Integrated Assets eateries about three months after CEO, Michael San Filippo left the island.
With a weak economy and a slow summer for tourists on St. John, things were tough. “I closed Chloe and Bernard’s at the Westin to save money; there weren’t a lot of people at the resort,” Cooper told News of St. John. He hopes Chloe’s will reopen by the first week in November.
“The Balcony is doing well,” he said, and added Asolare’s business has picked up in the last week. He’s decided to expand its operation from three days a week to five, Monday through Friday. (Some island restaurants are closed on weekends because those are turnover days for villas and visitors are less likely to eat out so soon after arrival.)
Cooper said there are also changes afoot at Mongoose Junction’s Paradiso. A new executive chef has been hired, Adam, who previously was sous chef under the island’s iconic Chef Ted Robinson.
Addressing reports that employees are owed wages, Cooper agreed that is the case. “When I took over they were behind,” he said. “Now, we’re less behind.”
He is hoping for help from the restaurant’s former owner. He’s heard that Winston Bennett wants to regain the business and has pledged that the restaurants will stay open. “I know he has never turned his back on the restaurants,” Cooper said, “He has (already) helped in many ways. He’s always had some involvement.”
While ownership issues may be confused and involve legal action, Cooper says he’s focused on business at hand. “These restaurants need to survive. They need to get food in, they need to have staff … that’s my job.
“As far as anything else, whatever is going on, I can’t listen to it. I have to do my job.”