Detroit-based James Beard Award-winning Chef, Shawn McClain has found the ideal location for his first hometown project. The GMRENCEN has partnered with McClain and his team to develop a dining experience for the iconic destination.
“We are proud to join the culinary explosion that’s happening here in Detroit in partnership with General Motors in this spectacular location,” said McClain. “We have a shared passion for the city and its innovative spirit. We’re inspired by that bold creativity and aim to transform the space into a dynamic, multi-concept experience that’s about so much more than the amazing views.”
Leveraging the hospitality prowess from his collection of award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, McClain is enlisting a line-up of world-class talent to develop the 20,000 square-foot project, including Greg Keffer of Rockwell Group, the renowned architecture and design firm founded by David Rockwell.
“The GMRENCEN is the most iconic building in Detroit and we are excited to deliver an unrivaled dining experience,” said Claudia Killeen, General Motors manager of Renaissance Center Development. “Shawn McClain’s dynamic creative vision, featuring multiple concepts is in line with our goal of establishing the space as Detroit’s culinary crown jewel.”
Partnered with McClain in the project is his wife and Detroit native, Holly McClain, whose deep background in front-of-house service and training will be instrumental in developing the hospitality DNA of the space. McClain is also drawing upon the talents of culinary and operations lead, Richard Camarota, and brand experience lead, Sarah Camarota, both native Midwesterners who are partners with the McClains in this project and in their Las Vegas restaurants, Sage, Five50 Pizza and Libertine Social.
“A space of this magnitude and significance requires brilliance coming together from all disciplines,” added McClain. “Every detail is being meticulously crafted to unfold into an extraordinary experience for our guests, from the way we design and launch our brand story to the special and engaging ways in which we reinvent the space.”
The premier space on the 71st and 72nd floors was previously home to Coach Insignia and the revolving restaurant, The Summit. The rotating capability was removed during its 2004 renovation as Coach Insignia.
Shawn McClain, Founder & Chief Restaurateur
As a James Beard Award Winner and outstanding restaurateur, Shawn has opened six renowned restaurants in Chicago and Las Vegas including Spring restaurant (innovative seafood), Sage restaurant (new American), Green Zebra (Vegetarian), Five50 Pizza Bar and Libertine Social (next generation gastropub). His acumen for redefining established genres to win both critical acclaim and establish smart, sustainable businesses is the hallmark of his career. This will be his first project in Detroit, which has been carefully selected because of its iconic destination status and unique position atop GMRENCEN, the General Motors headquarters and home to a signature Marriott hotel. “I could not be more proud to join Detroit’s outstanding culinary scene with the reimagining of this iconic, totally unique space. We plan to turn traditional ‘top of the tower’ dining on its head and deliver a multi-faceted destination that mirrors the bold, innovative spirit of this great city” says McClain.
While Shawn brings world-recognized acclaim to any project he takes on, he takes personal pride in his hands-on approach and deep commitment to developing all aspects of the operation and guest experience. Shawn draws on his experience in both independent ventures as well as management partnerships with Fortune 100 organizations, such as MGM Resorts and General Motors to deliver the greatest possible results from any restaurant opportunity.
Shawn grew up a native Midwesterner, born in Cincinnati, OH. Having lived and grown businesses in Chicago and Las Vegas, he has made Detroit his home since 2011 with wife Holly McClain, also a partner in their restaurants. He currently resides in Gross Ile. with Holly and their two young daughters.
Holly McClain, Managing Partner & Hospitality Director
Holly McClain, a Detroit native and boomerang restaurateur honed her talent for hospitality in Chicago and Las Vegas, where she played an integral role in the development and operation of six award-winning restaurants throughout the last decade. The hot spots include the iconic Spring restaurant (short listed for James Beard Best New Restaurant), the acclaimed vegetarian destination Green Zebra and progressive American steakhouse, Custom House, all formerly located in Chicago. Currently, she is partnered with her husband, James Beard Award winning chef and restaurateur Shawn McClain, along with Sarah and Richard Camarota in their three Las Vegas destinations: Sage and Five50 Pizza Bar, both at Aria Resort and Casino and Libertine Social located at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
As a passionate and inspired hospitality leader, Holly has always dreamed of bringing a signature restaurant to her hometown of Detroit, where she and Shawn moved to raise their family in 2011. When the incredible opportunity to take over the 71st & 72nd floors of the landmark GMRENCEN presented itself, the McClains felt this was the right entry into the city’s dynamic and explosive culinary scene. “I am beyond thrilled that we are reinventing the top floors of a building I’ve revered and been inspired by all my life. I am deeply committed to making this our most exciting and successful dining destination yet!” says Holly, who will leverage her front-of-house expertise to develop the hospitality culture and training protocol for the venue.
Throughout her travels and experience working in some of the greatest dining cities in America, Holly’s heart has always been in Detroit. She and Shawn are surrounded by family and committed to their local community, raising their two little girls Cameryn and Kylie in Grosse Ile. MI.
Richard Camarota, Managing Partner & Operations Director
Richard began his career oversees working for the Michelin star restaurant Beccofino in Florence, Italy. When he returned to the US, he was appointed Chef De Cuisine at Spiaggia in Chicago, the youngest person to ever hold such a coveted position. He then went on to open Custom House with Shawn in the same position. In 2009, he moved to Las Vegas to be Executive Chef at the acclaimed Sage, a signature Shawn McClain restaurant. The hotspot soon came to be known as the ‘culinary crown jewel’ of Aria Resort and Casino. Using the massive success of Sage as a springboard, Richard and Shawn continued to grow their partnership with MGM Resorts. In 2013, Richard became managing partner with Shawn in Five50 Pizza bar at Aria and Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay in 2016. Richard has lead the on-time, on-budget openings of all three Las Vegas locations and actively leads the organization in daily operations which exceed annual revenues of $20 Mil. Working in partnership with Shawn, he is also accountable for the restaurants' financial performance and as ‘keeper of culture’ has a passion for mentoring and cultivating talent within their growing organization.
Richard is a Michigan native, growing up in Holland MI. He currently resides in Las Vegas with his wife Sarah and two sons.
Sarah Camarota, Managing Partner & Creative Director
With a fifteen year career at Levy Restaurants, a $2+ Billion foodservice company based in Chicago, Sarah has a background that includes overseeing experiential master planning and communications at some of the world’s most high-profile events; including the GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the US Open Tennis Championships in New York and several Super Bowls and All Star games.
Sarah began working with Shawn and Richard in 2012, to develop and launch the Five50 Pizza Bar concept. She took a continued role in their Las Vegas restaurants and went on to lead the brand experience, marketing and publicity for the launch of Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay in 2016. The restaurant opened to huge critical acclaim was a recipient of the 2017 GOLD ADDY AWARD for their outstanding opening campaign and signature collateral.
In her role as Executive Director of Brand Experience at Levy Restaurants, Sarah also lead the creative master planning of food and beverage operations at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, home to the NHL’s Golden Knights. The Arena has been recognized as an industry innovator for its groundbreaking “Mixology for the Masses” program, which Sarah conceived of and developed in partnership with famed master mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim. This and many other guest experience innovations have made F&B operations at TMA among the most successful and celebrated in the country.
Sarah’s passion for creating immersive brand experiences extends beyond the quantitative results and is most clearly evident in how all aspects of design, hospitality, programming and storytelling come to life in a unified and inspiring way for guests and team members. She loves to stay close to the restaurant operations, ensuring the core experiential vision is being brought to life for our guests with consistency, flourish and FUN!
Sarah is also a Midwesterner, growing up in Cleveland Ohio. She currently lives in Las Vegas with her husband Richard and their two young sons.