We've been obsessed with Maman (mother in French) since the days of their first cafe on Centre St. in Soho. Since then, it's been embraced by New York locals, international visitors, and celebrities alike and now, their café, restaurant & event space has flourished with multiple locations across Manhattan, Brooklyn, & Toronto. It's easy to get lured into Maman by the smell of freshly baked cookies, the rustic vibe, the blues, whites and signature bunnies lining the cups and walls - it has an etherial feeling to it and once you meet the woman behind it, Elisa Marshall, you understand why.
Photo Credit: Twah Dougherty
Tell us about Maman and what inspired you to open the first one.
I used to be a wedding planner and when I came to New York City, I found that there were really grand event spaces, but not a ton of smaller ones. And here, people don’t have large homes and it’s hard to entertain and have 10 friends over for a birthday party. The event spaces that did exist felt very sterile - nothing felt like an extension of a home. With Maman, we wanted to create an experience that has food that feels like your mom would make, and a place where you can have all your friends over and host in intimate spaces.
You’ve been able to create the world of Maman that travels through each cafe, your branding on Instagram, and into Marché Maman - what went into creating the vision and aesthetics and how do you make sure that carries through everything that you do so well?
A lot of it stems from having an attention to detail, which is something as a wedding planner you have to have. It’s paying attention to every bow on every favor and all of those details in between that come together to make an event so wonderful. A lot of places in NYC were really lacking that, and I wanted to convey that detail in everything.
When it comes to the build-out, I always design a space with events in mind. For example, we’ll always have our tables custom made so they can be used for individual dinners and then we can bring them together banquet style. Also, everything is mobile. We don’t have too many fixed things because everyone has different needs and it’s not going to be a cookie cutter event.
What are the most popular events happening at Maman?
Baby Showers and Bridal Showers have been the most popular so far. We’re also doing a lot of press previews and brand launches from cookbook launch parties to new product launches. Those are really fun because they allow us to get really creative and versatile.
If you could list the three most important elements of event planning/party prepping, what would they be?
Coming up with a menu of items to serve at a party can be intimidating. What’s your advice for people when they are deciding what to include?
Determine the flow and style of the event and make sure the food is properly catered to that. If you want people talking to one another, don’t require things that require a plate and a fork. Have tray passed food as opposed to plated.
I always like to offer a combination of stations and passed food. Stations can be beautiful (a great Instagram opportunity) and become part of the décor and it’s always nice if someone is mingling that food is coming to them but if they are really hungry they know where to go to get it.
If it’s a sit down, I do love food being served family style. It helps create a more intimate environment and it creates a more social environment and it allows people to have a bit more variation and variety.
What does a successful event mean to you?
I love being part of someone’s special day. If you can create a memorable day for someone, it really means a lot. The personal satisfaction of being an integral part of hosting someone’s special day is very rewarding for me. Also, if there’s no food left on the table and people don’t want to leave, then I know it’s a good one.
What's the best cocktail to serve in a large group setting like a cocktail or holiday party?
When hosting large groups I love pre-batched cocktails. You don’t have to worry about making complex things. You can even set up a DIY bar and let people serve themselves. Even if your event is at a restaurant it makes it easier for service regardless.
Another tip is if you do want to serve hard liquor, I love doing beautiful carafes of juices, and champagne and people can create and make their own. People love making their own drinks and you’re able to cater to everyone.
If you could invite 7 people to a dinner party, dead or alive, who would that be?
What’s next for you and Maman?
Creating more fun and unique style event spaces – we just launched our new NoMad space. It’s particularly fun for us we’re a bit more midtown compared to our other spaces and there are so many office and PR companies in this area, there are a lot of great opportunities to do fun branding events. Come visit us!
Maman NoMad is located at 22 W 25th St, New York, NY 10010.
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