By Lillian Langtry
The well-known Demarchelier name has always been associated with creative endeavors. Take French-born Eric, the well-known painter and the onetime owner of the eponymous Upper East Side restaurant. His artistic style encompasses figurative, geometric abstraction and expressionism, and landscape and portrait work. But the talent doesn’t stop there. Brother Patrick is a world-renown photographer whose images have graced the pages of international fashion magazines.
However, it was a sad day when Eric decided to shut the Demarchelier restaurant. New Yorkers were saddened they lost a favorite French bistro. Fast forward one year, the family owns and operates two locations in Greenport, Long Island. There’s the Demarchelier Restaurant at Menhaden Hotel and the more recent Demarchelier Bistro with a more casual setting. At the helm is Eric’s daughter Emily Demarchelier who provides a perfect way for diners to dream of their next trip to Paris.
New York Lifestyles recently met (virtually, of course) with Emily to discuss the Demarchelier family history, her role in the family industry, and the New York restaurant industry’s future.
Tell us more about growing up in New York. I grew up between Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Shelter Island. I attended the Fleming School, followed by Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. As soon as school was out, we moved to Shelter Island, Long Island, where I learned to sail, water ski, and play golf.
Growing up in the restaurant business, did you want to be a part of it? What was your first job at the restaurant?I was in love with fashion and fashion photography. After Skidmore College, I started working at LVMH, followed by Christian Lacroix, David Yurman, Elie Tahari, and produced photo shoots. Somehow, I always knew I would go back to restaurants. I loved my experience in fashion, but I am so much happier going back to my roots. When I came home for a holiday from Choate, I would work at Demarchelier on 86th Street bussing tables.
What words of advice did your father pass on to you regarding what’s essential to being a restaurateur?My father taught me that hiring people you trust is essential. Being present for your customers, but also being able to take time for yourself.
Why did you move Demarchelier to Greenport, Long Island?Growing up in Shelter Island, I’ve seen the evolution of Greenport. Also, the very seasonal nature of Shelter Island. When we learned our landlord decided to redevelop the corner where Demarchelier was located, I knew it was time to make a move. My father retired, So I looked at several Upper East Side spaces. Rents were outrageous. Shelter Island is where my heart is, where my happiness is, so I knew Greenport was where I wanted to be. Plus, it would keep me closer to my love of surfing.
Tell us a little about the two locations. How do you source your products?The two locations are vastly different. My bistro is a warm, cozy room with dark woods and colorful art around the room, while our restaurant at the Menhaden offers diners a modern setting, which is very much branded to the hotel. The food at both locations is very much Demarchelier: Classic French dishes, healthy portions, and fresh ingredients. We try to source our products from local vendors as much as possible. All our fish comes from the Southold fish market and Peeko oysters from new Suffolk and produce from Jamesport Farmstead.
With the unprecedented nature of the past year, what do you see for New York restaurants?I hope restaurants come back to NYC. Restaurants were disappearing before the pandemic to make way for new buildings or corporate-backed restaurants. Unless rents lower significantly, it may not happen. As for the rest of New York, where rents are normal, restaurants will thrive. We already saw it when restaurants could have seated dining. People want and need to go out, be social, and eat excellent food. COVID-19 holds many people back for now, but I know they will be back and back in full force. I can’t wait!
For more information on Demarchelier restaurants, visit demarchelierrestaurant.com.