Travel back in time near Saint-Germain-des-Près! At number 69 rue de l’Université stands the officers’ mess for Squadron 303: four...
Matthias, can you tell us your story?
After graduating from business school in Paris, I decided to study for a further year at UCLA in Los Angeles. When I returned home, I started working in marketing for online poker companies in London, the Isle of Man and, eventually Paris. As a passionate poker enthusiast, it was a really rewarding experience. Nevertheless, after working as an employee in the field for a decade, I wanted to change sector and become an entrepreneur.
How did the Echo Deli project come about?
It all started with my passion for LA. I lived in Venice Beach when studying in 2004, and I fell in love with the city. It became quite addictive because I’ve gone back there at least once a year since. And each time I went there, my trip was always focused on food. I organised my days around the restaurants I wanted to visit. My first visit to Gjusta (a deli founded by Travis Lett, chef at Gjelina) in 2016 was a turning point. The idea came to me while I was working on a project to launch a restaurant in Paris.
Why the name?
It’s a tip of the hat to one of the city’s most creative districts, Echo Park. Like in Paris, the local community meets up in the neighbourhood café at all hours of the day. The atmosphere is filled with light, colourful, and lively, while the local cuisine is truly unique. I wanted to make sure that my project was an echo of Californian cuisine, so that was the name I settled on.
What do people eat and drink there?
We are honoured to be able to welcome our chef, Mailea Weger who, after a ten-year fashion career, graduated as a cook and joined the team at Gjusta, the iconic delicatessen that is a flagship of the cuisine. At Echo, everything is home made, from preserves to pickles to drinks. Just like the city that inspired us, our menu blends local products with global seasoning for breakfast and throughout the day.
Who took care of the décor? What were you aiming for?
Juliette Rubel, who is a young architect and a friend of my wife’s, as well as someone who shares my passion for the City of Angels! Far removed from traditional Parisian cafés and Australian or Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop trends where everything is white, our spaces and our atmosphere are relaxed and colourful. Last summer, I was in LA for all of the month of July and I wanted to get inspiration from restaurants that I love like Kismet, Jon & Vinny’s and Superba, where wood is the dominant theme. In terms of graphic design, The MP Shift creative agency, which was founded in New York by an alumnus of Fooding and her American business partner also helped me enormously in terms of defining the concept for Echo, and they also created the visual identity for me. I wanted something very pop-inspired and that matched the image of LA, like the neon sign in the same colour as the logo that you can see on the front of the restaurant.
How would you describe Echo in a few words?
Inspired by new Los Angeles culinary icons like Sqirl and Gjusta, Echo is the first café to import neo-Californian cuisine, which is “healthy-ish” – a healthy, generous, and visually powerful interpretation of traditional deli food. With options to suit everybody and a relaxed atmosphere, I hope that Echo will be an opportunity for Parisian foodies to discover something new, as well as a real boost for the neighbourhood.
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini @thesocialitefamily