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How To Make It Big By Breaking The Rules

September 02, 2014

By Michyl


Although its culinary scene has been criticized, France still remains a make or break point for chefs and restaurateurs trying to make it big. And nowhere is this highlighted more than in Paris. Although, with a staggering amount of new restaurants not making it past the one-year mark, you have to wonder: what does it take to open Paris' next "it" restaurant?  The answer: throwing classic pieces of advice out the window. Les Niçois is one of Paris’ hottest new restaurants. But the success behind this Nice-inspired restaurant comes from a variety of places you might never expect. Here’s 5 Classic Pieces Of Advice that the guys behind Les Niçois broke to make it big.


As we wrote in our review of Les Niçois, stepping through its doors is like stepping into your vacation in the south of France. Creating a place where you would want to spend time with friends was exactly the vision that long-time friends and owners Vincent Traoré and Luc Sananes had in mind for Les Niçois. And is there really a better way to create this ambiance than with your own best friend? With Luc being from Nice, the concept of Les Niçois had been his dream in the making for 10 years. Add in Vincent’s own visions and the result is a restaurant with a trendy, chill vibe and full-on Pétanque ground (imagine a French version of Bocce in a sandbox).

PARISIANIST FUN FACT: Luc grew up with friends who were actually professional Pétanque players! If you build it they will come, right?


Swap in that suit and tie for a hard hat, chef apron, hospitality smile and whatever else the occasion calls for. That’s what both these guys did. Although Luc came from a background in restaurant consultation worldwide, partner in crime Vincent had been an Assets Manager in Hong Kong for the 5 previous years. Verdict: the perfect combination for success is having someone who lives and breathes an industry and another who brings a completely fresh perspective.


Everyone knows that the success of a restaurant is based on three things: location, location, location. So naturally Vincent and Luc went in another direction. Mom always knows best doesn’t she? Vincent’s Mom was the one who actually found the location. Vincent and Luc visited the space and weighed the pros and cons. Cons: it needed a lot of work and there was nearly no foot-traffic on the narrow street in front of the restaurant. Pros: prime location close to all of their friends. SOLD. Why you ask? No matter whether you are starting a blog or a restaurant, your friends are going to be your first and best customers and PR advocates. So keep the location in proximity and those bar stools full.


Prior to Les Niçois becoming Les Niçois, it had a bit of a cursed history. The restaurant actually changed hands numerous times during the previous 5 years Here are EXCLUSIVE before-and-after photos just for Parisianist. And considering the state of their reservation book from week 1 to even week 4…the curse is long broken.


All PR is good PR right? But what about just plain incorrect PR? “We wanted PR to be just a mess,” says Vincent. They had no PR team or press release and relied only on word of mouth. The result: an awesome mess. All kinds of strange things have been quoted about Les Niçois, but this strategy has also landed them in the pages of Vogue and Elle, not to mention many of Paris’ it-blogs.


So, a word to the wise looking to set up shop in the Paris culinary scene. Do your homework, but be sure to follow your gut. As the boys at Les Niçois proved, making it in Paris means breaking the norms.

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