Xan McLaughlinOperating Partner
Even as a child growing up in a small suburb of Virginia Beach, Xan knew he wanted to work in the hospitality field one day. While attending James Madison University, he worked his way through school with multiple restaurant jobs and encouragement from his parents, who are both veterans of the culinary industry.
Upon graduation from JMU in 2004, Xan accepted a corporate job and quickly decided it was not for him, so he set off for the bright lights of Las Vegas. There, he spent several years learning the intricacies of the fast-paced bar business. He first worked at Casino Monte Lago as a bartender, which turned into a manager position, then moved to Reflection Bay Resort as bar manager. After three years of managing the bar for celebrity fundraisers, concerts, and the resort’s private yacht, Xan felt he had mastered the Vegas bar scene and also missed life on the East Coast.
On his journey back east, Xan took a detour in Charleston, fell in love with the coastal city, and decided to make it his new home. In 2007, he helped open Chai’s Lounge on Upper King Street, then served as manager of its sister restaurant, Basil, until 2011. He also worked as bartender at popular Charleston restaurants, Social, Fig, and The Ordinary.
In 2013, Xan heard about a new project that veteran restaurateur Karalee Fallert was working on in the upper-peninsula of Charleston. Realizing he was ready to take a leap of faith, he reached out and eventually joined forces with her as operating partner of The Park Cafe. Together, they opened the doors in February 2014 and in just over two years have established The Park Cafe as one of the most beloved restaurants in town.
In May of 2016, Xan expanded his partnership with Karalee by joining Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen as operating partner. Combining his passion for Asian food and knack with customer service, Xan has already made huge strides with the popular Chinese restaurant.
In his free time, he crushes the local ping-pong scene and enjoys eating and drinking his way around town.