After closing at the onset of the pandemic, Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave.), reopened in June of last year to great fanfare from the Williamsburg community.
“For the first few days, there was a line around the block,” explained Maison Premiere’s Managing Partner and Bar Director, William Elliott. Elliott was touched to see an outpouring of love from neighbors who missed the restaurant.
Equal parts oyster and cocktail bar, Maison Premiere provides Williamsburg with a space to both celebrate and relax. Elliott calls the restaurant a “layered concept” explaining that it’s neither meant to be fine dining, nor just a casual bar. It is a constant work in progress, but Elliott hopes guests think of Maison Premiere as “the full package.”
The experience at Maison Premiere starts right when you walk in the door. Maison Premiere exudes a pre-pandemic feeling of decadence that can be enjoyed while wearing either quarantine-chic athleisure or elevated attire.
“The team is dressed up so you don’t have to be,” jokes Elliott. By team, Elliott is referring to the impeccably decked out waitstaff. Elliott and his fellow managers based the staff’s uniform on vintage hotel garb, with a hint of Williamsburg hipster style, popular when the restaurant opened in 2011.
Not only are they dressed to the nines, but it’s obvious that the servers are passionate professionals. “Passion is an irreplaceable trait,” said Elliott. In addition to expertise and passion, Elliott looks for attention to detail and a level of kindness when hiring.
Elliott explains that “it’s easy to hire experts when people are already experts.” However, there are more restaurants than experts, so restaurants need themselves to be places people want to work. To achieve this, the management team at Maison Premiere goes above and beyond, bringing in educational speakers and taking the staff on field trips to oyster farms and distilleries.
“The culture is such that you want to be good at your job,” mused Elliott.
The drink delivery is a sight to behold, as servers expertly balance several components of cocktails and combine them at the table. Other small touches include selecting oyster choices from an extensive list with small golf pencils.
All of these details have kept Maison Premiere consistently busy since the reopening. “People come to brunch even without a brunch menu,” Elliott added, referring to Maison Premiere’s limited food menu of mostly smaller dishes.
Maison Premiere does have plans to offer a more robust menu in the future. The limited menu was put in place for now because the restaurant lost a chunk of kitchen staff during the pandemic. When Maison Premiere reopened in June, they started out by serving only oysters, and more recently added additional food items, like steak tartare and a lobster roll.
Elliott hopes to be able to explore more exotic offerings in the raw bar selection and larger format meals soon.