Chicago native Chris E. Offutt has been General Manager at the Waterfront Hotel since January of this year. She is easing into her new role with years of hospitality industry experience working in Chicago, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco and now Oakland.
How do you interpret your role here at the Waterfront as General Manager?
My role is really to understand the brand and our values as a company and getting to know how we want to position the hotel, and how to make it better, special, and different. That means making some aesthetic changes such as redoing the pool area so it is a place where people want to hang out. It also means being more involved in the community. I believe that a good hotel gives back to the community in a meaningful way. We are now hosting small internal fundraisers, where people pay five bucks so that they can wear jeans on Fridays and we donate that money to a local charity. We are continuing to find more ways to participate and give back to the Oakland community.
Tell us something about the Waterfront that most people don’t know.
The Waterfront used to be known as a “boatel” because it was originally designed for people to dock in their boats and check in for their stay. There even used to be a giant “B” at the bottom of the pool that stood for boatel.
What is your favorite thing about working in Jack London Square?
It is definitely the view, it puts you in a good mood right away.
The Waterfront hosted a Cinco De Mayo party hosted by General Manager DJ Black Velveteen. Can you share with us a little about your musical background?
Yes, that’s me! It all started when I was a kid. I used to make playlists and go back and record my voice over the songs. I did that until I realized that people don’t really want to hear you talk over the songs the whole time! Then after I started working in the City I was connected with a colleague who taught me how to DJ on a vinyl turntable. Shortly after that I started doing opening performances for DJ’s then started booking my own gigs, and the rest is history.
If we went back in time and sat in your first car, what music would be playing?
I always liked listening to DJ mixes and at that time I would probably have had Chris Fortier’s club recordings playing.
What do you like to do for fun?
DJ’ing really is my passion and it’s nice to have my passion and interest intersect with my work. I also belong to the Air Pusher Collective, which is a local collective of artists based in the Bay Area. In fact, there’s a Steam Punk Masquerade in Alameda that we are participating in coming up this summer which is our big yearly event.