Preserve.us: Introducing Maman NYC
Introducing Maman NYC
Once upon a time (two months ago) we wandered outside our SoHo offices and stumbled into heaven: It’s decorated like the French country houses you only see in movies, and it has this uncanny ability to constantly smell of freshly baked croissants. We needed to know the people behind this beautiful creature. And now, we have to share their story—introducing Maman NYC.
“Candice’s cups are the highlight of everything,” says Elisa Marshall, the owner of French cafe, Maman. She’s talking about Candice Kaye, her friend from all the way back in high school outside Toronto. She is responsible for all the romantic illustrated details at Maman.
Indeed, it was the cups that sparked our friendship with Elisa and Candice, though we initially went to Maman for the French country comfort food and rustic-chic ambience. We learned that the two ladies had worked together on this endeavor, and also at nearby Papa Poule, a French rotisserie takeout spot. Then we thanked our lucky stars for our wonderful neighborhood.
The history of Maman is pretty dreamy. On Elisa’s second date with then-corporate lawyer, French-born Benjamin Sormonte, he confessed to her that he wanted to open a restaurant. Her childhood dream was to open a bakery. They decided to leave their corporate lives behind and follow their passions. “I always knew exactly what I wanted to do, so it was fairly easy to execute,” says Elisa. The design, the décor, the food, menu and concept—all of it was years in the making. Elisa has always had an eye for decor, embarking on serious DIY projects, and is very much inspired by her father, an antique dealer.
But Maman is all about mothers, bien sûr, and many of the recipes at Maman are passed down from Elisa and Ben’s mothers and grandmothers, then tweaked to perfection by Michelin-star French chef Armand Arnal, who is the third founder of Maman and a childhood friend of Ben’s. The washroom is dotted with family photos, script on the pipes that run along the walls warn “Je suis chaud!” and every single detail is given an immense amount of time and attention, resulting in a space that we really like to linger in.
“When I was playing around with décor, Candice was the first person I called. Her style and vision are so in line with what I wanted—I trust her,” says Elisa. These two are something to experience. They both have awesome, crazy curls and magnetic smiles. They have a manner and chemistry that feels like family. And when they sit down to create together, the result is always gorgeous.
Candice illustrated four patterns for Maman, including a watercolor floral of Ben and Elisa’s mothers’ favorite flowers—roses and peonies—and a toile with little bunnies and birds peeking about. The patterns appear on cups, cushions, wallpaper, and soon, boxes and bags. “For Papa Poule, Elisa didn’t even give me a vision board, which was really exciting because I knew she trusted me,” Candice says. “And in one hit, there it was. I know she likes to think outside of the box, which is exactly what I want to do with my work,” Candice continues.
Craft your spring spread with Maman in mind. Be fearless and get a little bit messy. It only adds to the charm of the occasion. If these ladies know how to do anything better than whipping up beautiful collaborations—it’s having fun.