Back to Global Conversations 1.11: Camilla Marcus, Restaurateur
It’s true that restaurants rely on the idea that people will turn up to eat, but they also make up four percent of the U.S. GDP. Camilla Marcus, the restaurateur behind NYC’s Westbourne, talks with Melissa Biggs Bradley about the industry’s battle for survival, the way we eat now, the meals that dominate her flavor profiles, along with the parenting skills she’s trying to acquire and why she’ll never stop traveling.
Everyone’s lives and livelihoods have been deeply affected by COVID 19. And a lot of our industries have been not only disrupted, but irrevocably changed. One of the industries that has been hardest hit by the many lockdowns across our country has been the restaurant industry. Many of our most beloved establishments, those special independently owned restaurants that we love to discover and share with family and friends, are in danger of disappearing forever. To make sure that doesn’t happen, a coalition of incredibly committed restaurateurs and chefs has formed, first in York City and then nationally. Melissa speaks with one of its founders, a true warrior in this fight for survival, Camilla Marcus.
Originally from Los Angeles, Camilla found her way into the passionate culinary world via the much more practical ones of law. She’s got a degree from NYU in business, she graduated from Wharton. But via various twists of life which she will talk about, Camilla found herself working as the director of hospitality for legendary restaurateur and innovator Danny Meyer. The two of them shared a lot of similar passions, including fair business practices and sustainability, which Camilla put front and center in her own Soho restaurant — Westbourne, which she opened in 2016. Now opening a restaurant in New York City is always an extremely risky undertaking. But Camilla’s congenial spot on the corner of Sullivan Street immediately drew a fan base thanks to its West Coast derived culinary ethos, its inclusive vibe, and the fact that every purchase benefits a job training program. The Infatuation summed it up as “the food is great and you feel happier when you leave.” Well, we’re all eager to return to those special kinds of places that serve great food, give back to their communities, and yes, make us feel happier when we leave. Camilla is here to tell us how that can happen, to talk about her career path and what led her to found the Independent Restaurant Coalition, but also why she’s always lived by her mother’s mantra that perfect is boring.