President: Beachcomber at Malibu Pier (also in Crystal Cove)
23000 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
Interview Date: Sunday, April 25, 2010
Michael Jordan, President of the Beachcomber at Malibu Pier, is no stranger to the restaurant business. His father, Matteo, opened the iconic Matteo’s Italian Restaurant on Westwood Blvd. in 1963, and at one time operated five restaurants by that name both in Southern California and Hawaii.
“My dad was close friends with Frank Sinatra – they grew up together in Hoboken, New Jersey,” says Michael. “When my dad moved here after the war, he called Frank, who helped him get a job as a waiter.” After several years working as a waiter and Maitre d’, the gregarious Matteo launched his own restaurant and was soon entertaining celebrities and presidents.
Michael says he loved watching his dad take care of the guests, and knew that he wanted to do it, too. He grew up in both California and Hawaii, and attended Brentwood School, learned to surf at Surfrider Beach in Malibu and attended the University of Hawaii (foodservice management). Throughout his life, Michael worked in every role at Matteo’s, including busboy, bartender, waiter and Executive Chef. Then he took a big step … “I left the family business in the mid-1980s” he says with a sigh that indicates how big of a deal that was.
He found great success outside of the family business, becoming the General Manager of the Pavilion Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach, which was named No. 1 in Orange County while he was there. Following that success, Michael and his wife, Teresa, opened Bella Teresa in Corona del Mar, where he operated as Executive Chef and she as the Front-of-House manager. His next move was to the Patina Group, where he worked for Joachim Splichal and opened three restaurants, including Pinot Provence, which was also named No. 1 in Orange County while he was operating the restaurant.
Later, Michael was recruited by Disney to open Napa Rose (another No. 1 restaurant in O.C.). “It was my great honor to work with such a great company to create such a magical place,” says Michael. At Napa Rose, Michael trained more than 500 staff personally and created a culture of wine-savvy food and beverage professionals that “raised the bar in Orange County and Los Angeles,” he says.
At this point, Michael had achieved the two of the highest ranks in the wine world: Master Sommelier, of which there are fewer than 200 in the world, and a Certified Wine Educator, awarded by the Society of Wine Educators. According to Michael, he is one of only 15 people in the world to hold both distinctions. Based on his experience, his title at Disney was “Global Manager of Wine Sales and Standards for Worldwide Parks and Resorts” – a title, he says, that did not fit on a business card! His love of wine has permeated all of the restaurants he has touched, and propelled Michael and Teresa to pursue his true dream of owning a vineyard. Under the name “Word Vineyards,” Michael and Teresa are currently making a Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
The owner and founder of the Beachcomber restaurants in Malibu and Crystal Cove, Doug Cavanaugh, approached Michael first as a beverage consultant. After a short time, Michael stepped into the role of president. “The great thing is that I am still able to have Word Vineyards while also working on this great restaurant,” says Michael. The Malibu location opened in July 2008, and though he has been there for just 60 days, Michael is already having a positive impact on service and quality at the restaurant.
“I love working with Doug to create a comfortable place to hang that’s “real” – with good food, good service, and a great vibe,” says Michael. “There is so much history both in Malibu and in Crystal Cove, and we are embracing the whole tapestry without hitting guests over the head with it.”