10 Questions: Clay Bergus

If you've been in Perry's, you know him. For seven years, since the steak and upscale southern comfort restaurant opened, Bergus has served as general manager.

New apartment buildings sprung up nearby. Other places opened and closed. But Perry's keeps plugging along, unchanged...except for an upcoming name change imposed when a Houston restaurant with a similar name checked into the local market.

No matter. Few things faze a former musician and world traveler. Oh, maybe chicken fried steaks in China...

1. Perry's seems to be the constant. What do you thing of all the changes around you?
I'm just glad it's everything else and not us. Really, it keeps things fresh and keeps us humble.

2. Do people really order your chicken fried steak?
Oh, yes. We've had tables of eight or ten where everyone at the table gets it. I even get it.

3. What is it about Texans and chicken fried steak?
I don't know, but based on how many we sell, I don't really care. I've had chicken fried steak all over the world. Let me tell you, don't order it in China.

4. How is the name change going?
It's good. Everybody had opinions, but we've landed on something we think will work and will have it out next month.

5. What is life as a general manager really like?
It's like being a professional babysitter. No [laughs]. I don't know if it is written in the job description, but if there's a problem, you have to deal with it. There's inventory, scheduling, discipline, marketing--all that. I don't think that's what I applied for, but that's OK.

6. Not a job for the weak, huh?
If you don't like working a lot of hours, no. But it has been seven years and I'm still here...with most of my hair. When you ask your son what color your hair is and he says silver...

7. So what is the lure of the industry?
I really don't know. There's a sexiness to it, though. You're on stage every night. No matter what problem occurs, the show must go one. And the public must never know about the problems. You perform and leave whatever troubles behind.

8. Has dining in Dallas changed?
Yes and no. We're often a special occasion restaurant. But people are a little more wary of things--like the price point is lower on wines.

9. Do you miss Saturday morning cartoons?
I would miss anything on Saturday morning these days. We don't have lunch service on Saturday, so I'm asleep.

10. How do you get any yard work done?
That's a good question. You live in Uptown and go without a yard. It's a beautiful thing.

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