Appointed director of the Café de Paris at the beginning of the year to succeed Stefano Brancato, who held the position for twenty-six years, Éric Gorjux is taking on the biggest challenge of his life. But that is fine by Gorjux, who has a full CV, and knows the Principality's establishments like the back of his hand.
He immediately fell under the spell. "I had just landed in Monaco and my father took me for a coffee on the terrace of the Café de Paris," says Éric Gorjux, smiling as he recalls that first encounter with the Société des Bains de Mer. "That day, I said to myself, wow, what a fabulous place."
Thirty years later, he is now running the Café de Paris. A real source of pride for Éric Gorjux, who landed on the French Riviera from his native Corsica at the age of twenty-two. "I was born in Nice, but I grew up in Corsica. I did all my schooling there, and part of my family is still over there."
A remarkable rise
Leaving the 'Isle of Beauty' was not easy. But in Cannes, where he arrived in the early 1990s, and then in Monaco a few years later, Éric Gorjux quickly built up his now impressive CV.
I've had a lot of great openings, I'm proud of thatÉric Gorjux
"I started by doing a few extra shifts at the Monte Carlo Bar," he explains. "I was also a DJ at the time. That allowed me to get to know a lot of people around Monaco." For more than ten years, the Niçois went through all the Principality's venues, from Zebra Square (now Zelo's Monaco) to Tip Top, by way of the Thirty-Nine Monte-Carlo. Waiter, head of section, deputy head waiter... Eric Gorjux has worn many hats.
Until he set sail for the capital. "I left for Paris in the mid-2000s to join the Frères Blanc group, which manages the fourteen largest brasseries in Paris." A two-year adventure that was "very formative", before returning to the Mediterranean coastline, working for the Dalton Group.
"I couldn't resist the call of the South," smiles the kitesurf enthusiast, who heads straight for the bay of Hyères when the wind is up and his schedule allows. "I spent a year in Cannes, before applying again in Monaco."
SBM in his bones
This time, the Monegasque adventure was well and truly under way. And Eric Gorjux's career was about to take a major turn. “I applied to the Maya Bay when it opened in 2007. It was a wonderful experience."
The aim is to bring the locals and the Monegasques back inÉric Gorjux
He was noticed, and invited to join the SBM when the Buddha Bar opened. A huge success. "But for family reasons, I decided to stop after four great years," he says. "I then worked for a family office for two years."
The "Swiss Army knife" Eric Gorjux felt like something was missing, however. The opportunity to put the Rampoldi Monte-Carlo back on track was too appealing. “I've had a lot of great openings", he states. "I'm proud of that."
After the Rampoldi, Éric Gorjux was asked to open the COYA Monte-Carlo restaurant. Another huge success. “That was a fantastic opening. There were huge waiting lists." During a chance conversation, the car fan was offered the director's position at the Café de Paris, taking over from Stefano Brancato. The emotion is palpable. Thirty years after that first coffee on the Place du Casino, Éric Gorjux could see his dream come true.
“I didn't hesitate for a single second." A major challenge now lies ahead of him. To make Le Café de Paris "The place to be". "The aim is to bring the locals and the Monegasques back in. With the competition, numbers have dropped off a little." But there is no doubt that thanks to Éric Gorjux's know-how, the new Café de Paris is set to provide its future customers with the best possible experience.