Juveniles was started in March 1987. As you know in those days I was in partnership with Mark Williamson at Willi's, which in itself is now an institution. Juveniles, started out as one thing, as in the beginning it was meant to be a sort of Tapas bar, but mainly a wine shop for all the amazing wines we were discovering on our travels. You have to remember that in the those days - it really wasn't that long ago, the Rhone was very "new" to Paris and as for Spain, Italy, South America or Australia - forget it. Parisians drank Loire wines - Saumur Champigny, or "un Petit Côte" (Beaujolais), or Bouzy Rouge and Bordeaux if you were well off. Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon were relativley unheard of. By the mid 80's, however, the French were suddenly "discovering" wine. They all felt of course that if you were French, you were born with good taste and knowledge in food and wine and everyone had a cousin, aunt, or uncle, who had a vineyard. In fact, most of them knew relatively little!
The 1980's were also the "awakening" foodwise - people had a little money to spare and cooks began to become more well-looked upon, and top Chefs began to take on rock star dimensions - Bocuse, Troisgros, Roger Vergé and later Joel Robuchon were cooking their way around the world to spread the word.
Juveniles was evolving too and by the mid nineties, it was much more a local bistro à vins - nobody understood tapas anyway ! The principle remains the same today :- to try and bring to the table true value, the food is fresh, uncomplicated, simple, but using some really great products, which we deperately try not to fool around with. The wines of course continue to be the main focus and in many ways we have found our way back to French country wines, as again they still represent great value. My theory is simple, if you cannot afford a second bottle of something you really like - its too expensive !
For me the greatest compliment that one can give us, when talking about Juveniles, is "its like home" Thank you.
Since the early days of Juveniles I have been blessed with many wonderful staff, many of whom have gone on to do interesting things for themselves in other parts of the world. Because I have a preference for young "amateurs" (students and people like that) I have had many very bright, intelligent people go through - smiley, honest and tidy ! The clients love them and it definitely has an effect on the type of clientele we have. I always say: People do not go out to a restaurant to have a bad time. If they do, it's our fault. Luckily, judging by the number of return customers we have, it would seem that we are doing some things right.
Today, some twenty five years on, I am still getting fun out of what I do. I enjoy my customers immensely (most of them !) and there are still crusades to be lead. I guess my current ones are screw caps - that I love, for sheer quality reasons and secondly so called "natural" wines, that I completely loathe. For me, all good/great wine is natural and the vigneron, who is honest, will do whatever has to be done in difficult years to save his harvest - even if it does involve the use of sulphur. People have a tendancy to muddle up bad, unfinished or dead wines with natural. By creating "natural" or "bio" labels, we are just locking ourselves back into a whole load of rubbishy reasons for letting vignerons get away with mediocrity. Luckily, there will always be the good & the great who do not need these handles, which are just a marketing ploy.
Wine may no longer be as fashionable as it was in the 1980's. However, it is still an integral part of the the quality of life and one of the great pleasures is sharing a lovely wine with friends. For me it is an important part of the definition of "conviviality"