Glion alumni open ‘Melt’, a new BBQ restaurant in Paris
To open their dream restaurant, two Glion friends went to Texas in search of all the right ingredients. Very soon, ‘Melt’ will open its doors as the first Texas BBQ restaurant in Paris.
When Jean Ganizate and Antoine Martinez tasted real barbecue (BBQ) in New York City for the first time, it was a revelation. They followed their taste-buds back to Texas to find the techniques and recipes behind the delicious, smoky flavors and brought one of the best BBQ chefs in Texas back with them. Very soon they will be launching their new restaurant: Melt Paris.
Here’s our interview with the restaurant’s co-founder, Antoine, and the story of their journey from inspiration to restaurant entrepreneurship.
How they met and fell in love with BBQ
First, a little background: Jean Ganizate and Antoine Martinez are both French nationals who graduated from (respectively) Glion’s Associate and Bachelor degree in Hospitality Management in June of 2013.
“After graduation, we both left for New York for management training jobs. Jean was managing the openings of Maison Kayser, a French bakery opening locations in NY while I was assisting the FB director of a small boutique hotel, Mc Carren Hotel & Pool, for the opening of the rooftop bar, swimming pool, room service and restaurant together with a 2-Michelin-star chef, Paul Liebrandt,” explained Antoine.
“Living in the East Village in Manhattan we discovered a new restaurant concept we’d never seen. It was a Texas BBQ joint called Mighty Quinn’s where you go to the counter to order and they cut the meat right in front of you. There was a huge line coming out of the restaurant and this delicious, meaty, smoky smell and we were just amazed after the first bite.
We went back home and searched if there was anything like that in France, and of course there was not. So we wanted to import this concept back to France. We finished our management training, and we decided take the money we’d saved and we flew to Dallas, TX: the capital of Texas BBQ.”
Jean and Antoine spent a month on a road trip driving all around TX. They visited the best BBQ restaurants and before visiting they called the owners and asked if they could do a day of observation in the kitchens, meeting chefs, watching them work, and seeing how these restaurants worked.
“It was an amazing adventure, and we filmed a lot of it to make a movie in preparation for our own launch. We met Jeffrey Howard, a pit master – that’s the guy who takes care of the BBQ pit for smoking the meat – at one of the best BBQ restaurants in Dallas called the Pecan Lodge in this great neighborhood in Dallas called Deep Ellum. And he was great. So we asked him to join the project and he agreed. So our chef is actually the pit master who worked for one the “top 4 BBQ joints on the planet. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a great chef coming for the opening and we’re dedicated to producing that same amazing quality of fresh BBQ as we tasted in Texas. ” Antoine said.
Starting a BBQ restaurant in Paris
After their adventure in Texas, Jean and Antoine headed back to France to start on the long, hard process of building a new restaurant business. First, they developed a business plan, an exercise that they were already familiar with from their school projects at Glion. Then, they set about gathering the funds from capital investment firms and hedge-funds, topped off with a little “love money” from family and friends.
“We needed around 850,000 Euros to open the restaurant. First, to buy the “fond de commerce” that is the license and space of the restaurant, plus some of the equipment, which cost around 410,000 Euros. We spent 150-200K on equipment, ordered a smoker from TX, and invested 100K into the renovation and decoration. The rest is for marketing, communications, and the kitchen test. Once the renovations are completed, we’re going to test the menus to be ready for the opening; we’ll try the meats from different suppliers and find the best products to work with.”
At the time of this interview, the Melt team was still facing one challenge: “Right now the smoker is blocked at the French border in customs, because the machine does not conform to the standards for the European market. So we are in the process of negotiations with customs, and if we cannot find a solution, it goes back to the USA and we will order another smoker from Germany. The issue is the smoke. In Texas, where it comes from, the restaurants are located in low-set buildings and small towns, away from other buildings. We are in a five story building in the streets of Paris so we have to assure them that our indoor smoker won’t fill the building and the whole street with smoke.”
For the opening, Melt Paris has five full-time staff members: Jean and Antoine, the head chef and ‘pit master’ Jeffrey Howard and two other employees that are good friends from Glion: Juliette Lacroix Wasover and Paul Loiseleur. It doesn’t require a big staff because it follows the cost-reducing model of American restaurants that do counter service. Guest place orders at the counter, the food is prepared right in front of them and served on metallic trays covered with paper, real cutlery, real glasses, but plates of craft containers and paper.
MELT PARIS: Opening November 17th!
If you want to try the taste of Texas BBQ in Paris, don’t miss it.
Address: 74 rue de la Folie Mericourt, 75011 Paris
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11:30-15:00 for lunch, 19:00-23:30 for diner (closes at 00:30 for Fridays and Saturdays)
Social Media: instagram: @melt.paris
We wish y’all a hot, messy, tasty, meal!
P.S. Inspired by so many Glion alumni who go on to be entrepreneurs, since 2016 Glion is offering a specialization in New Venture Creation, a program that prepares graduates to start new businesses just as Antoine and Jean have done here. Learn more about this new specialization on the BBA in Hospitality.