Le Mary Celeste


Paris, France

Le Mary Celeste is an oyster bar named after an abandoned ship, sailed from New York in the 19th century, in which only alcohol was found still on board. The décor is – appropriately – nautically-inspired, with pastel tones complementing the white-washed wood of floors and ceilings. 

The venue opened in 2013 in the haute Marais; product of the Quixotic Team behind two other renowned locations, Glass and Candelaria, Le Mary Celeste has proven to be a real hotspot for both locals and tourists.

The bar boasts a wide range of spirits, with a very original cocktail menu that showcases clever names; French, pithy descriptions of the drinks; and quotes from writers and artists that channel what the cocktails are all about. In addition, Le Mary Celeste has an impressive wine list – with equally pithy descriptions included – and inventive small plates to enjoy in their windowed, airy space amid the crowded Marais area. 

“All elements meld together seamlessly.”

Co-Founder of Le Mary Celeste, Joshua Fontaine, tells us a little bit about his business, how it was born, and what it has to offer. 

  • WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND LE MARY CELESTE?

“We wanted to create an open and airy, cocktail-focussed corner bar. At the time, most cocktail bars were dark and kind of closed off to the outside world. We took a space that would traditionally be great for a classic Parisian café, and set up a raw bar, started to make great food, craft cocktails and a rich wine list. We pretty much combined everything we liked into one spot that, on paper, maybe shouldn’t work – but, in reality, all elements meld together seamlessly!”

  • HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY BUILDING THE BUSINESS?

 “It’s been a long learning curve, but now we are settled into a good rhythm, supported by a great team with several people that have been with us for almost 10 years. At this moment in time, we are focussed on tweaking details, reinvesting, renovating and making the place the best possible version of itself. It’s easy to rest on your laurels after such a long time, but I think the reason Le Mary Celeste is still busy seven nights a week is because we are continually striving to improve, whether that concerns food, drinks, or ambience.”

“We are continually striving to improve.”

  • WHAT MAKES YOUR VENUE STAND OUT?

 “The combination of a great cocktail menu combined with a wine list to geek out on! There aren’t many places that do both well, and I think we excel in both areas. Moreover, we pride ourselves on better-quality and more inventive food than you would expect from ‘just a bar.’”

  • WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS, SHORT AND LONG-TERM?

“We are in the midst of a bunch of heavy renovations that aren’t particularly noticeable to the public, but quite necessary to support and strengthen the venue for the next 10-20 years. For example, we recently replaced the façade, added an awning to better protect guests from rain, and now are embarking on kitchen and back-of-house renovations to improve the work environment for our staff.

“Additionally, we have invested in off-site wine storage so we can buy broader and deeper quantities, with an eye on putting some special things away for a few years. That way, guests will be able to taste vintages at Le Mary Celeste that perhaps aren’t readily available elsewhere. It’s capital-intensive, but I think it is a good investment to keep the place relevant in the future.”

The UK market obviously carries some differences, especially if compared to European business outlines. However, one thing to hold onto and learn from Le Mary Celeste is the determination of its owners and staff in making the venue the best it can be, providing excellent products and a unique atmosphere for their guests. 

Follow @lemaryceleste

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