The good life: You are nicknamed the king of Parisian nights. do you confirm
Benjamin Patou: It’s a shortcut that I don’t find very happy. Our vocation is to be an actor in Parisian life at any time of the day, to create moments of happiness, to entertain our customers. But I love this idea of being labeled a party goer. Life is a party! Breakfast with a childhood friend, dinner in a beautiful place with the woman in his life, this is the essence of the party. At the restaurant Mimosa, when the head waiter brings Jean-François Piège’s stuffed tomatoes and Niçoise donuts to the table, I am at the height of a gourmet feast. Drinking a good whiskey while listening to the pianist at Café Lapérouse is also a great festive moment. This concept goes far beyond dancing on tables while singing until the end of the night!
How many addresses have you opened in 10 years?
BP : Moma Group currently has twenty-two restaurants, 90% of which are owned. The highlights of this decade? First I see 2012: that year I bought the Arc, the iconic club on the Place de l’Etoile, and took out a big loan. I’m not communicating the acquisition numbers, but let’s just say it was a very tall step to climb. I say “we” out of modesty and because Moma’s success is a team – I will say “I” if one day I mess up… In 2016, the Barrière group entered the capital. I owe them for opening the doors to the world of banking for me. Then comes the less fun date for the crisis with yellow vests, 2019 – we worked for a year and a half with a lump in our stomach, closed every Saturday evening, foreign customers canceled all…
After the Barrière group, who did you open the capital for?
PO: Two investors recently arrived, Patrick Bruel and Eric Sitruk. Patrick Bruel is an investor of choice, very demanding, passionate about gastronomy and who has a real entrepreneurial spirit. I was already associated with him at two addresses, le Bœuf sur le Toit and Andia. After the Barrière group has withdrawn in early 2022, I now own 70% of the shares, making us a family group unlike our competitors.
“Unlike other sectors such as the cinema, the catering industry is experiencing a strong recovery. After two years of frustration, people have to find each other. For this, our professions are irreplaceable because they offer experiences that Uber Eats or Deliveroo will never provide. – Benjamin Patou, founder of the MOMA Group
What was the most complicated thing to deal with during the Covid era?
PO: Many things; the closings, the openings, the restrictions that changed every three weeks. We sailed by sight. We also had to reopen with demobilized staff, most of whom had left Paris. And fight to be eligible for partial unemployment, for PGE (loans guaranteed by the state). We received aid in 2021, otherwise we would not be here today. Since June we have started repaying, but the current dynamics of the group means that we can manage it. In contrast to other sectors such as the cinema, the catering industry is experiencing a strong recovery. After two years of frustration, people have to find each other. For this, our professions are irreplaceable because they offer experiences that Uber Eats or Deliveroo will never provide.
Recruiting is notoriously difficult in your industry. What are your magic tricks for attracting talent?
PO: In fact, more and more professionals have turned away from this activity, where the working hours and conditions can be intense. In this context, we are lucky enough to offer a super-premium form of catering in a very beautiful setting, with inspiring chefs, interesting customers and who leave significant tips. Serving Lady Gaga between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower can be exciting. Those who want to develop within this profession therefore prefer companies like ours. And this environment remains open to diversity: we give them a chance and train a large part of our staff. And of the 1,200 employees who are currently employed in the holding company and the companies, 90% are recruited on permanent contracts.
What revenue are you aiming for this year?
PO: In 2022, we should reach €120 million in revenue. This is in line with our business plans and represents great progress. In 2020, we had raised only 30 million euros, which represented a return to our first year’s performance!
And how do you see the future ?
PO: Primarily with international projects. In ten years, we have created strong concepts based on good chefs, designs by renowned decorators and the ability to create unique atmospheres. This formula is of great interest to other countries, other cultures, who wish to acquire a little of this French touch. In the medium term, we plan to triple the number of our restaurants, especially under license with management contracts, mainly in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, USA… The first to open in March 2023 will be a restaurant Andia in Marseille, followed by of a Lapérouse café in London, in the Old War Office, where Churchill had his offices. As a location, you could hardly dream of a more iconic location.