The mixed population
It's artistic and vibrant vibe
It's easy to make friends
You can find everything here, no need to go into Paris
It's rich in culture
Barbara & François
la maison montreuil- a new life
When you walk into the restaurant "La Maison Montreuil", you do feel at home.
A warm decor, a relaxed atmosphere and homemade dishes just like Mum makes!
Barbara & François, friends and neighbours for several years, decided to completely change their lives and careers to open their restaurant in October 2017.
After having worked together on another project, a tender for a multi-fonctional space in Bagnolet in the next suburb (they didn't win the bid) they decided to try again when Barbara saw that this space was up for rent.
She suggested it to François and their project gained momentum very quickly as they had already worked on the restaurant concept for the Bagnolet bid, so they were ready to go!
With the precious help of the local Chamber of Commerce to help them with their business plan and some 0% loans, their project was accepted by the bank and it was the start of a new life as restauranters.
"We wanted to create a restaurant that we couldn't find , as foodies we wanted something tasty, original and affordable, as well as a regularly updated menu and a warm welcome of course."
Barbara, originally from the Rhône-Alpes region, has been in Montreuil for 7 years. She used to work in urban planning and well as in participative democracy and with electronic and techno festivals
In this last job, she was the link between the festivals and the locals concerning noise pollution from the event, making sure everything went smoothly for all parties involved.
This diplomacy is surely put to good use in her job in charge of the restaurant floor where she is every day, client satisfaction being very important to her.
François, originally from the the Poitou-Charentes region has been in Montreuil for the last 15 years and has a fascinating background.
Before realising his dream to become a chef, he went to Art School (graduating in painting and sculpture), was an actor in a theatre troup for years, was a artisanal furniture maker working with metal and wood, a stage manager and also a technical director notably for the fab lab "Ici Montreuil"!
Both and artistic and technical career path.
Thanks to his handiness, he also did the majority of the renovation work in the restaurant, notably making the beautiful metal shelves above the main counter.
As for the "performance" side of his new job, the only stage fright (something he hated as an actor) he gets now is making sure everything gets out on time for his audience waiting to be fed.
"What I like now with the creative aspect is that it's immediate. With theatre or painting, it takes a long time to see the final result, whereas here, I create something new every day."
François' wife did all the styling, she works for the magazine Elle Décoration and you can tell! It's a success, both cosy and elegant with some touches of humour dotted around the place (see Gallery)
"We didn't feel too much pressure for our first business, because it wasn't hugely expensive here and there are 5 partners (including Barbara's husband), so the risks are shared."
For lunch the menu changes every day depending on what François feels like doing and the stock they have in.
Everything is home made and they only use fresh ingredients.
They try to work with local products from Montreuil as much as possible.
They have 2 beers from Montreuil - La Montreuilloise and Deck & Donohue -, the cheese come from the local cheese truck "Place au Fromage", the bread from Le Fournil and the coffee from local café and roaster Café Kaldi (SEE FOOD & DRINK).
For the style François & Barbara did not want basic brasserie food and wanted to try and offer something more innovative, whether that be in the side dishes (sweet potatoes, polenta, wild rice, mogettes purée...), in the way of cooking, or in the saucing (lemon mayonnaise with capers, wine vinegarette with Ouzo...).
They hope to offer good value for money, and I can tell you, they've succeeded!
No problems for vegetarians either, a the moment they have an "Aubergine burger with broad bean tapenade, served with sweet potato crisps", yum!
François works with 2 different Italian suppliers, and I must admit their green olives are the best I've ever tasted in
my life and the burrata is also a dream on a plate!
The majority of their wines are organic or natural, and the wine menu is excellent, chosen with the utmost care.
Lunch: starter, main, desert 17€ - Evening: starter 8€, main 14-18€, desert 6-8€
TOO MUCH TOO SOON
La Maison Montreuil got full very quickly, especially on a lunch time. So much so that it was a bit too quick for their liking! They hadn't quite finished getting themselves settled in. Everyone knows that catering is a hard and tiring job
"We didn't have the time to take a step back and get used to the frequency in the beginning and before we knew it we were already at the step we thought would be further down the track.
We very quickly went from 10 people to 50 on a lunch time and of course I knew our output had to drastically increase...but I also wanted to maintain the quality of the dishes...it's hard when you first start knowing how to find that balance,
you can very quickly crash and burn."
They employ 6 people and that's hard with the high employer contributions France is known for.
The restaurant is succesful but they are certainly not rich yet! The end of the month is still a touchy period.
Like every business it takes a couple of years to break even.
B: "We discovered lots of new things as we went along, above all else it's not because you appear succesful that you're comfortable at the end of the month. They are lots of expenses,, but you have to persevere!"
F: "I didn't do it for the money, I did it because I want this to be my life."
The future is promising for La Maison Montreuil
They have regulars that come back 2/3 times a week, and
on a weekend the evenings are often full
They also wanto to work in an honest and ethical manner
They don't stock Coca Cola or any of its brands, and they've also eliminated other products from big corporations like Danone and Nestlé, they don't use plastic straws and they try and reduce and buy less packaging.
You'll find more small, indepedent brands here, especially drink-wise
For the future they want to develop more activities, like afternoon tea and host events like
private sales (they did a Christmas shop for example)
"When peope leave here, we want them to have been surprised, to have had an authentic, informal experience, to have felt...at home."
Go and check it out, you won't be disappointed!
La Maison Montreuil
Open from Tuesday to Saturday