A woman enters in a vintage T-shirt, denim skirt, many rings around her fingers and a radiant smile on her face. Just by watching her come forward, I have know doubt she is part of the Wild & The Moon team. I met Lucile in their café in Paris, Rue Charlot. After a month of frequenting Brasseries and Patisseries, gorging nothing but croissants and baguettes, it felt almost too refreshing to walk into their idyllic little café, offering only organic and plant-based options. While sipping on my (vegan!) lavender latte, I watch the tourists and local veggie-lovers come and go with delicious smoothies in hand, and there seems no end to it. I asked Lucile about running Wild & The Moon – starting from their flagship store in Dubai and ending with the success of their new detox juice program.
Words: Aleksandra Medina
What’s the story behind the name?
We didn’t want anything related to food or juice in the name, because maybe later we would want to be a resort. Who knows what will happen. Wild is the whole natural side of it – the plants, the soil, mother nature. The moon dictates seasons and cycles. Just like the moon, we change menus every season. We all participate in changing the recipes, everyone tastes them before: starting from the waiter to the cook and the co-founder. But then you still have the moon, which is like “No, you can’t use pear during summer, because, you know…(laughs)”. So, it’s interesting to see how we are trying to pair the whole wild side with our craziness. Or try to find a compromise and adapt to the more natural side of it dictated by the moon. The name came naturally, because it defines our concept so well.
Why Dubai and Paris? You are about to open up a store in NYC soon as well! How is that going?
We were supposed to open in September, but it took a little more time than planned, so, hopefully, we will be open in New York by September. But why Dubai? The co-founders used to work in Dubai and when they officially moved to Dubai in 2011, Emma couldn’t find any of this there. Emma grew up this way, so she’s always been into this lifestyle. So, she just created it for herself. There were some places where you could find some of this, but I don’t think she trusted the places. She wanted her own thing, because she would know that it is certified organic. When she opened in 2012, people thought that no way is an organic vegetarian restaurant going to work. People in Dubai are not ready. But it was so successful that it won the healthy restaurant awards. Now it’s the reference point for vegetarian cafes. So, when she saw the potential for that in Dubai, she wanted to go further – vegan takeaway. Because at first it was a small café within a store. Then she really wanted a food concept that revolved around this lifestyle. The café opened in May 2016. And then onto Paris, of course, because they’re French. It’s their hometown. And also because Parisians were patiently waiting for a concept like this to open.
"Wild is the whole natural side of it – the plants, the soil, mother nature. The moon dictates seasons and cycles."
But following a cliché, I would think that the French are not very fond of raw and veggie food, at least not more than they love meat, fish and other essential ingredients of French cuisine. In your opinion, how have they adapted to the health food craze and all these spots cropping up all around the city?
In places like London and NYC, people are like “When are you guys coming? We want you!”. Because they have been living like this for the past 10 years. People are ready, they are familiar with the concept, and when they taste a good one, they’re in. But in Paris, it came as a surprise that people were ready without realising it. For example, I am 100% French, my family is French and we are shifting towards a less meat-based diet. I know a lot of families, who are unconsciously eating less meat. What’s funny is that, when we opened, people realised that this is what Paris really needed. It was the first step for them into this sort of a way of living and eating. When we opened, we had lines and lines in front of the restaurant and it was packed. Because, I guess, people knew about it, but they had never really looked into it.
Wild & The Moon #Savant
Have there been a lot of other stores popping up after you?
YES! A lot. We opened in this neighborhood, because it’s more international. Because the French are more sensitive to change and to new concepts taking over. People here (3rd district) are more curious, so it is easier to be here. But now that we have established in the area and everyone in the area knows us, a lot of people are asking for us to open up cafes in other parts of Paris as well. It’s cool to see the evolution of it.
"What’s funny is that, when we opened, people realised that this is what Paris really needed. It was the first step for them into this sort of a way of living and eating."
When I came, I noticed that there were a lot of English-speaking people and the baristas spoke great English, unlike in other parts of the city.
This is something we work on a lot when we are recruiting. We try to recruit internationally, people from all around the world. We have Columbians, Germans, lots of Americans, British, because our clientele is very international, just like our co-founders.
Is your clientele mainly tourists?
We have everyone here, to be honest. We have a lot of loyal customers that live upstairs, who come in every day to pick up their morning coffee. I work in the office, so I’m not here every day, but still, when I come, I see a lot of familiar faces. So, we have the loyal clientele and then we have the tourists. Lots of people have heard about us in the press or come in because this is a touristy area, so naturally they just pass by. But it’s interesting to see that we literally have a little bit of everyone.
How would you describe your loyal clientele?
It’s people around 25-40. Our customers are people that are conscious of the importance of eating like this and are conscious that it is not something that’s just trendy. They know that they are paying for what they are eating, because organic food tends to be more expensive. If you take a juice and a salad and a snack, it will quickly add up to 20 euros. Obviously, if you’re 18, you can’t really afford that, and if you can, it’s exceptional. So, we have a lot of people that work in fashion, deal with press, events… They have the ability to buy these types of products.
Have you witnessed a shift in preferred tastes? What do people order most?
There is a change, for example, now you see a lot more charcoal lattes, unicorn lattes… If there’s a trend, we try to follow it by reading the press, cookbooks, checking Instagram. We try to catch up with that, but we have a lot of best-sellers that we’ve had since the beginning. Matcha latte, for example. I think in 10 years it will still be here, because people simply love it and it is good for you as well. We have the Black Gold Nut Milk, the gray one with activated charcoal in it. The acai bowl, I think is the best-seller here. One of our salads with quinoa and avocado. The basics work really well, I’ve noticed. They are more accessible. Everyone likes an acai bowl. If you bring your father, your grandfather…anyone will like it. There’s some stuff that will never change.
Is there a new trend approaching?
I’m sure. There’s a lot of stuff going on with superfoods. And we work a lot with superfoods here. Acai, matcha, turmeric… It’s very important for us to use superfoods in every dish we prepare. And I think that the trend is continuously evolving towards superfoods. Later on, you will see them everywhere. Whether it’s in a concept like ours, or authentic French restaurants. They are just packed with nutritional benefits and super good for you. Honestly, I think that superfoods will take over all restaurants at some point! With the trends; I think people just get bored easily, so they like to create different forms of packaging. Honestly, I think that the superfoods, acai bowls and smoothies are here to stay.
When you create the menu for each season, do you pay extra attention to the way the food looks like?
Yes, of course, we are very aware of the importance of Instagram. We like presentation and aesthetics here at Wild & the Moon. Every detail counts. When we have our salad, it needs to be colourful. Everything here is colorful, even when you look at our Instagram – it’s crazy to see how colorful it is! And it’s all natural! This is something we think a lot about when we create our recipes. We really want to show that it is possible to have a rainbow menu with no chemicals. It’s just Mother Nature. And then we work a lot with textures. We like to have it crispy and soft at the same time. For one of our vegan ice creams, we have popped quinoa as a topping, it’s nice to have the mixture.
Is the overall interest in your restaurant growing?
Yes, we want to open up more restaurants, definitely. We are getting demands from all around the world – London, NYC, Berlin, Madrid, Switzerland, even Hong Kong. We just want to open up all around Europe.
"We want to show that it is possible to have a rainbow menu with no chemicals. It’s just Mother Nature."
Do you have the detox juice program?
We just launched it one month ago! We have one that’s a little bit more intense, so it’s just juices. And one that’s a mixture with juices and nut milks. It’s more for beginners because it’s a little bit heavier on the stomach, more filling. We did a collaboration with a naturopath to design our detox programs. You can do 1, 3, 5 or 7 days. Before doing the longer ones, you should definitely try the 1-day program to see how your body reacts to it, and if you can tolerate it. You will be surprised at what your body is capable of doing, to be honest! But you have to listen to your body. If you’re getting really hungry, you can have nuts or just other raw snacks.