When Play Management partner John Pettei arrived in Las Vegas 16 years ago, he was a college student who had uprooted his life in Queens, New York, to try something new in Vegas with nothing but “$2,000 in cash, a backpack and a suitcase.”
And tenacious ambition. “I was like, I’m going to make this work,” says Pettei, who graduated from UNLV with a degree in hotel administration while working his way up in the nightlife industry. “I had a lot of great mentors. I was in the right place at the right time, I worked very hard, and I liked what I did.”
In just a few years, Pettei climbed the nightlife ranks, from busser at Light at Bellagio to general manager of numerous Light Group venues. “It went from a job to a lifestyle,” he says. “It was really hard, but I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Pettei served as GM for Caramel Bar & Lounge, the Bank and Jet before rising to director of operations for Light Group, spearheading development for Light and Daylight at Mandalay Bay. “It was Pandora’s box … there was nothing like it,” Pettei says of the iconic club’s reopening in 2012.
Pettei worked for Hakkasan Group after it acquired the Light Group’s venues, and then an unimaginable opportunity arose, for Play—led by Pettei and operating partner Colin Comer—to take control. “Every different job I had, every hat I wore, was grooming me for this,” Pettei says.
After establishing a solid new foundation for Light and Daylight, Pettei looks forward to an even brighter future. “We want to grow, [but] we want to do it gradually; we want to do it well. It’s about growing our team and giving them the opportunities I had.”