Interview with Eric Zhang, CJW Eric’s Vision for CJW


Kelly Chan   |   October 8, 2021

CJW (Cigar,Jazz,Wine) Shenzhen branch is set in OCT BAY, the up-and-coming new leisure hotspot in Shenzhen and the most trendy urban entertainment destination in South China. The catering area occupies well over 4,000 square meters and boasts a brilliant coastal view, as well as an elegant, yet casual interior design which offers patrons an intimate dining and nightlife experience.

In the early October, we interviewed the owner, Eric Zhang.

ShenzhenParty: Why did you choose Shenzhen for your third branch in China?

Eric Zhang: Shenzhen, a city in southeastern China with over 8 million people, is strategically located just north of Hong Kong. Right off the top, Shenzhen was the birth place of China’s economic reforms just over 30 years ago. We had been very careful before we chose to set up in OCT Bay. In the seven times I’ve come to Shenzhen, each time I have more confidence. Shenzhen is changing so fast; we are so amazed at the speed of Shenzhen’s development. Besides, the strength of OCT Group is our guarantee of confidence.

ShenzhenParty: What’s the localization strategy of CJW OCT BAY?

ERIC ZHANG:CJW at OCT BAY creates a comfortable and friendly atmosphere by perfectly interpreting sea culture with a minimalistic yet diversified design concept. Every building has its own marine theme. The restaurant provides patrons with an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable ambience with natural materials like wood and transparent stones. CJW Bar & Lounge features two different styles. The first floor creates a dynamic world with shining colors and modern chic materials, while the second floor provides a private escape from the hectic life outside.

If you are a food and cigar enthusiast, jazz lover, CJW will definitely be the place for you.

ShenzhenParty: CJW presents 3 themes, Cigar, Jazz and Wine. Why these three?

ERIC ZHANG:“A cigar is like a woman, which you must meticulous take care.” It’s for cigar-smokers, it’s for champagne connoisseurs; it’s for those romantics with the cash to make things happen. CJW: C for Cigar; J for Jazz; W for Wine.

Cigar was popular in Taiwan 1998. At that time, many of the people coming back from overseas were affected by the phenomenon of cigar. I was also one of the cigar lovers coming back from America. So we have the idea of opening the first store called CJW. Cigar lovers can get together here. Since 1996, people in Taiwan have become fond of red wine, especially in the accompaniment of jazz and cigar. I love music. But I like tea better than wine, because of my resistance to liquor.

ShenzhenParty: Can you give us a brief introduction of the CJW’s history?

ERIC ZHANG:

CJW established in Taiwan 1998 and received widespread recognition as an upscale brand offering high quality dining and nightlife experience.

  • 1998 – CJW established in Taiwan 1998 and received widespread recognition as an upscale brand offering high quality dining and nightlife experience.
  • 2002 – CJW opens second branch, located at Shanghai’s Xintiandi.
  • 2003 – CJW opens third branch at The Bund Center in Shanghai.
  • 2004 – Conde Nast Traveler (USA version) ranks CJW at The Bund Center as one of the top 30 high-end restaurants and lounges in the world.
  • 2005/2006 – Shanghai Tatler magazine presents CJW at The Bund Center with its Readers’ Choice Award.
  • 2007 – Grand opening of CJW’s fourth branch at THE PLACE in Beijing.
  • 2008 – Modern Weekly awards THE PLACE as the Best Continental Restaurant. The Beijinger presents the restaurant with its Readers’ Bar & Club Award.
  • 2009 – CJW at THE PLACE receives second prize in the TimeOut Bartender Shake-off Competition.
  • 2011 – CJW set to open in OCT Bay, Shenzhen, South China’s most trendy destination for travel and leisure.

ShenzhenParty: What makes CJW OCT BAY SO Special?

ERIC ZHANG:I read somewhere about the secret of running a bar in Europe. One is lighting and music. The other, which is an important factor, is the fact that ladies would feel that a bar is where one can meet the opposite sex. Though it does not happen all the time, it’s the atmosphere a successful could enhance. From our first bar in Taiwan up till now, most customers are white-collar couples, rarely, singles.

ShenzhenParty: People would say seven year’s itch, but CJW has been in China for 10 years, what do you think of this?

ERIC ZHANG: Seven years is a period. After this period, there ought to be another level up. Certainly there are challenges, but there better opportunities now. The same goes to ShenzhenParty. The experiences gained from 2001 to 2011 have brought about unexpected opportunities.

ShenzhenParty: Could you tell us what your expectations of the CJW are?

ERIC ZHANG: Vistion & Healthy: I might back to the topic choosing Shenzhen. All of us know that Shenzhen is a migrant’s city. As a matter of fact, all us come from somewhere. I’m from Taiwan, you are from the other end of the world. No matter where you come from, what you choose to do, perspective is indispensable. My Chinese name contains this character, “XU”(旭). I see the CJW team as the Sun rising in the East. I always stress the importance of young people being well-read and philosophical. Actions are prompted by perspectives. Finish what one must today. I ask my staff to train their physique. With a robust physique, one will then have the necessary asset to make something out of one’s life.

Numerous details were involved in setting up CJW as the high end of the high-end. The acoustics, helped immeasurably by the back alcove, are excellent; the wait staff has received more training than most Olympic athletes; and the cocktails are mixed expertly, not just thrown together. But it’s the dance floor that’s so intriguing, it’s what sets it apart from Centro and what will ultimately portend CJW’s fate. If you see the high-rollers swaying their way around the dance floor, CJW will go down in legend. Otherwise, it will just go down.

OCT BAY is still under construction. When it is ready, CJW will all be all ready for you . Before that you can follow their sina weibo for events to enjoy free flow high quality wine to gain a glimpse of CJW.

(Reporting: Kelley Chan; editing: Bernard Cheung)

Bernard Cheung is the Owner of Ring ‘em Words, which provides professional language services, including

WRITING (advertorial, slogan, press, release, news, report, proposal, editing, proofreading ) and

COACHING (business writing, presentation skills, IELTS, advanced grammar).

Also well-versed in literature, music and humanities subjects.

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