- Photography by Mr Jean-François Gaté
The year 2014 began on an eventful note for Mr Xavier Petet. First came the birth of his daughter, Pilar, and then, less than two weeks later, the opening of his new restaurant and épicerie, Clint. "I have two babies at the moment," says the 30-year-old Parisian. "And three jobs."
When he's not being kept busy by his new roles of restaurateur and father, Mr Petet spends his days working as a lawyer for Clifford Chance, advising on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. "I've been there for six years, and it's a job I'd quit for nothing," he says. "But as time went by I realised that I wanted to create something more tangible." Clint, the fruit of his endeavours, is a venue that breaks the mould - it feels more inspired by the airy, laid-back vibe of London's creative districts than it does by Parisian café culture. "I've always been struck by how difficult it is to find a cosy place in Paris," says Mr Petet, who spent six months in the English capital on secondment with his law firm. "Sometimes, when you walk into a restaurant in Paris, you feel like a wallet with legs. We wanted to create the antithesis of that - somewhere that felt welcoming, somewhere that you could come and go freely."
We took a trip to the French capital to visit Mr Petet's new venture, where he took the time to show us around and explain the philosophy.
How did the idea for Clint come about?
I guess you could say it came quite naturally. I've always been a foodie, and two of my good friends from high school, Karim and Gary, work in the restaurant business. The three of us put our heads together and made it happen.
What roles do you all play?
Karim is our barista and Gary is the bartender. I'm not at Clint on a day-to-day basis - my role focuses more on managing the épicerie, which sells specialty groceries.
And what about Clint's location?
We're based in the 11th arrondissement on rue de la Roquette, between Père Lachaise and Place de la Bastille. It's not considered a particularly "fancy" area - we were one of the first places to open in that regard.
It's quite a trendy crowd, but we never set out to create the new hipster venue - the restaurant is
designed for everyone
What sort of a crowd do you attract?
The area is home to a lot of small advertising, architecture and marketing agencies, and a lot of our customers are drawn from these industries. It's quite a trendy crowd, although we never set out to create the new hipster venue - the restaurant is designed and intended for everyone.
How did you go about creating this welcoming vibe?
We worked with Eléonore de Roquefeuil, a designer for Philippe Starck. Our pale untreated wood fittings are inspired by Scandinavian interiors, and give an airy, relaxed feel to the place. It was also very important that the restaurant was accessed via the épicerie, which I call the "living room".
And do the locals approve?
It's still very early, but it seems that way. The area is just so vibrant; it seems a shame that there was nowhere like this here before.
Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Copywriter, MR PORTER