Co-Owners Armel Joly, Alexandre Mur, & Michael Faure
OCabanon Cave á Manger Coming Soon to New York, NY. For those not familiar with Cave à Manger, please give our readers a description.
“Cave à Manger”, word by word, means “Cellar to Eat.” In fact, the idea is to bring a nice pairing between wine and food in a cozy place. We want our “Cave à Manger” to be a friendly destination, where anybody can discover love stories between wine and food, share and gossip around a good bottle.
It would also, through OCabanon, bring back some memories buried, the memories of youth, so that they can remember the smells of their childhood kitchens, flavors and beautiful products that touch the raw material. For others, it is some evasion to the discovery of true treasure ever suspected.
OCabanon also will be a place of discovery, of escape, of sharing and conviviality. The idea is to leave a clear path, and also to search for the product for which the grower has a real story to tell, sharing of know-how, and sometimes even a new discovery. This winemaker will then surprise us, take a risk but we offer a “live” product.
At the opposite end, we want to leave the classical highways of taste where everything is too perfect and where you don’t have any feelings of surprise. Our ancestors had knowledge, we knew how to improve it from over the years despite the fact that we forgot it while we now realize that this knowledge missed us.
Tell us a little about your foodservice backgrounds and experience. Where did you three meet?
Two of us (Alexandre and Michael) come from the restaurant area. Alexandre used to work for business restaurants from the last 20 years. His latest employer was Chez Daniel; Michael had several years of experiences in New York, from Brasserie (Le Cercle Rouge) to restaurant (Le Bernardin). Armel came from the Bank Industry where he spent the last 15 years of his professional life. Last but not least, it’s also a family business because we’re all brother in laws!
You all had a common dream in OCabanon, how did it become a reality?
The idea to create all together our own place always existed but became a real project in August 2011, enjoying family holidays and sharing good times for the breakfast to the dinner! During the next 6 following months, we decided to tweak the project and we concluded for a “let’s go!” in January 2012 but to be honest, we had this project in each of us for many years.
What do you want your guests to experience at OCabanon?
OCabanon Cave à Manger becomes a friendly destination for groups of people to share stories over wine and food. OCabanon awakens the senses through wine, allowing the guest to appreciate the wine yard, soil, grape, and nature. The energy of the food lies in its simplicity and quality, expressions from the Earth. The restaurant will also feature vins naturels, organic and biodynamic wines. In addition, the restaurant will have a full liquor and beer license.
To conclude, we can say that we’re looking for our customers to live the OCabanon mojo: to share.
Where is OCabanon getting ingredients? Local markets? Importers?
At that stage, our priority is to propose fresh and quality products coming mainly from the local farm market. Obviously, as our food will be a taste from the word, we’ll also have to use some importers. As much and as often as possible, our menu will integrate a “retour du marché” which means that we’re going to serve the products found in the morning at local farm producers.
Tell us a little about the wine menu strategy and does OCabanon offer any signature cocktails?
A large selection will be made from Europe and the new world with a majority of French Producers. The idea is to find some products with a story behind it, a story to tell or to share.
I could be risky sometimes but those wines are made with so much passion. It could be surprising; it’s more “un retour à la source” which brings to you something more ‘vivant.” We believe in Bio-dynamic, organic wines but even more important, wines from producers who can tell us a real story.
In the same spirit, as we apply for a full liquor license, we can also propose some cocktails without forgetting the beers lovers.
How does OCabanon present, appeal and price menu items that fit a guest's taste as well as their wallet?
As you can imagine, we want to propose some reasonable prices in our place, but again, behind every product that we’re going to propose, there is a lot of work and effort. For those reasons, if we want to select a product for the specificity of the work behind it, the price will be adapted. For wine, our objective is to propose a large range of bottles for each wallet.
What type of cuisine is offered?
As explained previously, the cuisine offered is based on simplicity and sharing. Simplicity because we believe that if a product is delicious by itself, its worthless to create something complicated around it, we want to propose it naked or with a simple transformation.
Sharing it because, as this product is good, we want to propose it easily to serve and to share with all the people at the same table. Pairing: wine and food propose a story that never ends and it’ll be a real challenge to try to match the food and wine again and again. The cuisine will be worldwide because, each country, each nation comes with some extraordinary taste and memories in its dishes.
For us, it is also important to go to the source, to remember.
For those who have lived the smell of jam being cooked, overripe fruit from the garden and sketched out full teeth, OCabanon also wants to use this type of product to give back to them those memories or even more to let discover these feelings to new people.
Sometimes the visual imperfect but full of sun and good smell of fruit or vegetables, and put on a very simple way in the plate could be an interesting way to let them have new experiences.
Work with any local NYC designers and consultants on the BOH and FOH?
No, our background, our feelings and our history drove us on this project. We used a nice architect company to help us to structure our approach.
Was it a challenge finding the perfect piece of real estate for OCabanon?
To be honest with you, the space we found was something special for us. The first time, we saw and visited it, it seemed strange and complex but at the same time familiar and mysterious.
A long space with different ceiling heights and this mezzanine on the front that goes all on the back but gives a very clear vision of space. It is also a place when we visited, which showed a large number of transition and traces of the past. It used to be a deli, a clothing store but each of those activities brought something to the space.
Then, we saw immediately in this space a real potential and started to feel very well in it. It’s also important to feel the potential that this place can offer you. We like this place because it allows our customers to feel like home at the bar, on the mezzanine or directly seated in front of the chef.
What was the most difficult task to get OCabanon opened?
Every step has its own challenge and it requested lots of commitments and envy in order to go through the next. As a marathon, you have to keep in mind that the Dday is important but if you want to cross the line, you need to train yourself step by step.
Looking into the future, do you see more OCabanon's popping up in places like the Meat Packing District or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, etc.?
Why not but to be honest with you, more than those places, we can share OCabanon in another districts but also cities. We’re also aware that in those places the market starts to be a little bit saturated and New York is big enough and there’s a lot of district with a lot of potential.