Las 10 curiosidades históricas del restaurante Maxim's - DISEVIL

The 10 historical curiosities of Maxim's restaurant

Maxim's is the best-known Parisian restaurant in the world but not for having one, two or three Michelin stars, but for having... history. A story that, like good stories, has humble origins and that is the first of its curiosities.

1. A waiter's dream

Like so many other businesses, the current Maxim's was born in 1891 , being a worker's dream come true for having his own business. Maxime Gaillard, a Parisian waiter, bought with his savings a former Italian ice cream shop located at 3 Rue Royale in Paris and partnered with another waiter, Georges Everard , to carry out his project. Their idea was to open a simple bistro with the aim of offering cheap food in the city center and, in honor of their respective names, they would call it: Le Maxime et Georges .

2. The first influencer in history

Businesses are made great by customers and Maxim's is no exception. Shortly after opening, this small and humble bistro was discovered by a young lady of Parisian society: Irma de Montigny .

If this story happened today, Irma would be a young influencer who would advertise her favorite bistro through her social networks. At that time, Irma de Montigny managed to act as an enthusiastic influencer, going to the establishment every day with her friends from Parisian society . That influx, as we would say today, went viral through word of mouth, and Le Maxime et Georges was filled with an elegant and select clientele.

3. The tragedy

There is no good story without tragedy. Despite the venue's incipient popularity, debts were piling up . George Everard left the business and Maxime Gallard entered into partnership in 1894 with Gustav Cornuché , who had also been a waiter and whose brother, Eugène Cornuche was a wealthy businessman and wine merchant. Unfortunately, and thus the tragedy, Maxime Gallard fell ill with cancer and died in 1895. Maxime's death led to the temporary closure of the business, which passed entirely into the hands of the Cornuché brothers. The new owners decided to renovate the establishment in a marked Art Noveau style, installing a piano to liven up dinners with music and dancing, and reopened it shortly after with a name adapted to English phonetics: Maxim's .

4. The exclusivity of Maxim's

Already converted after the renovation into an Art Noveau jewel , Maxim's definitively became the headquarters of the youth of the Belle Epoque.

In the dining room at Maxim's everyone was eating, drinking, laughing, flirting, dancing and having fun. But it was not until 1932 when Octave Vaudable, owner of the Noel Peters restaurant, bought Maxim's and under his direction began selecting his clients, privileging regulars, preferably famous or rich, and thus began a new era of prestigious restaurant that lasted longer. of half a century . Famous guests of the 1930s included Edward VIII and Jean Cocteau. The latter described Maxim's clientele as "An accumulation of velvets, lace, ribbons, diamonds and everything else that I couldn't describe. Undressing one of these women is like an outing that requires three weeks' notice, it's like moving house." ” .

5. World War II and Maxim's

During World War II, the German occupiers installed Otto Horcher as the restaurant's manager, and the restaurant remained open. In fact Maxim's was the most popular Parisian restaurant among the German high command and collaborationist celebrities. This is how Maxim's had a protected status during the occupation. For example, its employees were not deported and it was exempt from food restrictions. Due to this "collaborationism", after the liberation of Paris, the French resistance closed Maxim's although it reopened in September 1946 under the same management of Octave Vaudable. It was after the war when Maxim's international expansion began, opening restaurants with the same name in Chicago, Tokyo and Mexico City. The first in a long list.

6. The barefoot woman

During the 50s and 60s, many famous people came to the place: Aristóteles Onassis, Maria Callas, Sylvie Vartan, John Travolta, Barbra Streisand,... All of them, we can imagine, dressed in their best clothes. That is why one day in the 1960s a big scandal was organized when a woman entered the restaurant barefoot . It was none other than Brigitte Bardot.

It was at this time and under the direction of Octave Vaudable's son, Louis Vaudable, that the restaurant acquired its maximum prestige.

7. The current owner

In 1981, a famous French couturier, a regular customer of the restaurant, came to dinner at Maxim's invited by the owners, the Vaudable family. During dinner, the Vaudables offered to sell the restaurant to the couturier for a figure that has never been disclosed but is believed to be around $20 million. His intention was for the restaurant to remain in French hands and be managed by someone experienced in managing a French fashion brand. It is said that as the dinner and champagne progressed, the couturier overcame his initial reluctance and ended up accepting. This is how Pierre Cardin became the owner of the most famous French restaurant in the world. And he still is, although after his death in 2020 Cardin Enterprises is now owned by Maxim's.

8. The Maxim's brand

Under the direction of Pierre Cardin, Maxim's developed as a prestigious French brand not only with gourmet products but also with a line of clothing for men, women, perfumes and accessories.

Pierre Cardin was already a pioneer in using his own brand to market his products. The same philosophy was applied to Maxim's and that is why today we can find not only 18 Maxim's restaurants and 50 bitrots around the world but also more than 800 quality gourmet products such as Maxim's Brut Cuvée Champagne . Can anyone imagine a more French product than a Maxim's brand champagne?

9. The story of a drawing

The image of Maxim's is associated with an illustration signed by SEM, the alias of the caricaturist Georges Goursat whose works were highly recognized during the Belle Epoque. The owner of Maxim's at that time, Eugène Cornuche, commented almost by chance to Georges Goursat that he was looking for a new design for the menus of his restaurant but that none of them convinced him since the proposals he received were too formal and classic, the common in restaurants of that time. It was then that Georges Goursat took out his notebook and pencil and, looking around, sketched a caricature of the scene and the people around him. Eugène was excited by the idea of ​​printing a caricature as the cover of his menus and that is how this drawing continues today to represent the essence of Maxim's and appears on several of its products, such as on the label of its champagne.

10. And how much does it cost to dine at Maxim's?

We come to the question with the most painful answer of all. The Parisian Maxim's restaurant is open for lunch (from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.) or dinner (from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). The restaurant closes on Sundays, Mondays and also on Saturdays at noon. From 10:30 p.m. the restaurant is transformed and becomes a nightclub and a venue for more or less private parties that are generally only accessible by invitation. There are also special dinners called “Cabaret Nights,” with a musical show and dancing. Finally, the prices of the menus are usually around €2000 and if you choose from the menu the average price usually reaches €250 to which you have to add something more if you intend to taste a wine from their select winery. For those who value history, the experience is undoubtedly worth it.

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