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Around Faustine’s desk on the Rive Gauche: organic gourmet food shop l’Epicerie Générale
Next up in the series by our office manager Faustine Cressot, giving you regular glimpses of the neighborhood around her desk on the rue de Verneuil, is an interview with organic gourmet grocer Lucio Hornero.
Located at 43 rue de Verneuil in the 7th Arrondissement, l’Epicerie Générale, established in February 2011, offers the finest organic French fare from carefully-selected local producers. The selection reflects the owners’ passion for rustic, authentic food with a sound environmental track record and a minimal carbon footprint. This is gourmet with a conscience.
To learn more about this trendy shop, I went to meet Lucio Hornero, co-founder of the grocery.
Can you explain your work and your specialty? What is the story behind your success?
Our specialty is to source only 100% organic French products from producers around the French regions. Staying close to our producers means we know exactly where our products come from and how they are made, so we can speak knowledgeably with our customers about our selection.
We consider ourselves ‘neo-grocers’ because our previous careers were vastly different. Maud [Zylnik, l’Epicerie’s co-founder] worked in fashion and I was a civil servant working in City Hall. L’Epicerie Générale was born of our personal love of food and the desire to offer our clients a combination of healthy, delicious food, high quality products and a stylishly-designed and welcoming setting.
You started L’Epicerie Générale two years ago, in February 2011. Why did you choose this location?
When we first started looking for a shop we wanted to be closer to Saint-Germain-des-Prés but the rents were too expensive. We found this opportunity and we liked the address. In addition to its early rich history, rue de Verneuil is legendary since Serge Gainsbourg lived and died here. It’s in a neighborhood where small, well-known commerces de bouche [literally, a business in the “mouth trade”] are still thriving. We felt it suited us on many fronts.
Who are your clients? Just locals, or from other Paris neighborhoods?
For our staple grocery products, our clients are mainly local residents. On weekdays we have regular ‘take-out’ clients from local businesses – a book publisher, a bank, law firm, for example. On weekends, since we increasingly appear in French newspapers and on foodie websites, we are welcoming more and more people from other neighborhoods and even from the countryside. They schedule a stop at our shop as part of their visit to Paris.
What do you like most about this neighborhood?
The balanced mix of tourists, local residents and the weekday work crowd on and around the rue de Verneuil. We take it as a compliment that we seem to appeal to all three. And it’s that mix that gives a real village-like atmosphere to the area. This is one of the magical parts of Paris.
Watch this space for more from around Faustine’s desk.
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