The Insider

Maison Premiere: A legendary restaurant rises from the ashes

In 2020, Maison Premiere’s future was looking quite bleak. But a year later, the trendy NYC favourite has re-emerged to serve oysters and fancy cocktails to all, writes Holly Baxter

Tuesday 25 January 2022 20:03
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<p>Maison Premiere, the oyster and wine bar in Brooklyn’s salubrious Williamsburg</p>

Maison Premiere, the oyster and wine bar in Brooklyn’s salubrious Williamsburg

In August 2020, there was panic among the food enthusiasts of New York. Maison Premiere, the oyster and wine bar in Brooklyn’s salubrious Williamsburg, had been open for nearly a decade but appeared to have shuttered for good. Eater New York reported the bar’s site was redirecting to an error page, its phone lines had been disconnected, and its popular Instagram account had disappeared. Once a place to impress people on first dates, it now seemed it was destined to become another sad story of a neighbourhood haunt reduced to debt and dust during the pandemic. Eulogies were written; social media was awash with sadness. Since May of that year, loyal customers had been donating to a GoFundMe account that promised money received would go straight to the workers aiming to keep the place open. Now it seemed it had all been in vain.

And then, in September, a phoenix rose from the ashes. Maison Premiere’s Instagram account suddenly came back online with a picture of a cocktail and the note: “Oysters, champagne and sherry cobblers. May it always be.” Comments underneath were confused and cautiously joyous: “Coming back from the brink? Is it possible…” asked one, while others simply added: “Please tell me you guys are back,” “Reopening??” and, “YEEESSSS!!!!” One ex-New Yorker jumped in to say: “You might be the only thing I really reminisce about NYC.”

To understand the love for Maison Premiere, you have to understand Williamsburg. It’s a neighbourhood that now sports a Whole Foods and a Lululemon but, when the bar first opened, was an edgy choice for creatives eschewing Manhattan. What began as a spill-out area for people who could no longer afford the Lower East Side quickly became the place to be. And even now, the bars and restaurants of Williamsburg are the most reliably lively on weekend (and weekday) nights, the streets the fullest. Once, no tourist would have bothered adding Brooklyn to their itinerary when visiting the Big Apple. Now, people (even my own mother) come to stay in the upmarket Williamsburg Hotel on the waterfront and barely spend a day off the island.

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