Elcielo is family hospitality group, which has amassed 12 years experience to date, with restaurants in Colombia and the United States.
The company has, in those 12 years, opened a total of 12 restaurants and bars in Medellín, Bogotá, Miami and Washington.
The creative leader and owner of Elcielo Group is the Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos (above), now 36 years old.
Juan has managed to merge his seemingly disparate interests in gastronomy and real estate to create the business of his dreams: a multi-sensory phenomenon of a business which wows with its locations just as much as it does with its food.
Celebrity diners include Cindy Crawford, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, James Rodríguez, Andrea Bocelli and Sofia Vergara.
Q&A WITH JUAN MANUEL BARRIENTOS
How did the business first begin?
We began Elcielo 12 years ago when I was 23 years old, and it was the same concept – modern Colombian cuisine, and an experience for all the senses.
What are the main differences between running a business in Colombia and the United States?
I think the laws and the culture are very different. All the technical issues like payrolls, marketing, production, and food providers are very very different, and it’s very challenging but very exciting to understand both countries.
In terms of clients, there are different types of cultures; Miami and Medellín are more Latin, and Washington is a little bit more sophisticated and at the same time more polite, so clients change between the cities.
What parts of your job bring you the most joy?
The most joy is seeing the smile of the clients when they come to the restaurant, especially the kids. And another part of my job that I enjoy very much is travelling, and finding other restaurants and other chefs. Other than running exceptional bars and restaurants.
What other ambitions do you have for the business?
I like real estate very much and with the hotel we’re mixing the real estate and the hospitality businesses.
Could you explain a little about the multi-sensory experiences you provide?
The multi-sensory experience is based on awakening the senses with the dishes – you can wash your hands with chocolate and lick your fingers, you can smell things, taste things that look like one thing and taste like another.
Elcielo Restaurant, Elcielo Classic, Kai (vegan restaurant), Aguafresca (mexican restaurant), La Serenissima (italian restaurant), Cuon (asiatic restaurant), Cerdología (Pork restaurant), Papaya Guacamaya (colombian typical food) Shibari and El Navegante (Bar).
El Cielo Restaurant.
Upcoming projects include the very first Elcielo Hotel, which will be in Medellín.
This 28-room boutique accommodation will also have two restaurants, two bars, a coffee shop and some of the brand’s famous multi-sensory experiences.
Alea Global is currently exploring the potential of bringing the Elcielo brand to the Middle East.