photography by KATIE BURTON
text by SHANI SILVER
JOSHUA BOISSY, Owner
WILL ELLIOTT, Bar Director
LISA GIFFEN, Chef/Partner
MICHAEL SMART, Partner
KRYSTOF ZIZKA, Owner
If your busy, bustling summer needs a calm destination that is no further than down the street, pull up a chair at Sauvage. In a 1900s building that was once a car dealership, the space has been fully renovated and the Sauvage team has imparted its sense of chic charm to a restaurant destined to become a new Brooklyn go-to. The relaxed, but wiseley detailed space gives a sense of being carefree and vacay-esque, all while holding court on a Brooklyn corner. This industry dream team shares more on their inspiration and process (and their favorite seat in the house) below.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT SAUVAGE. HOW DID THIS TEAM COME TOGETHER?
Sauvage is a hybrid of a lot of things — it is the culmination of the traveling our team has done, and the dining and architecture we experienced. Sauvage is about our passion for supporting small businesses, which is evidenced by our sourcing of ingredients from small farms, collection of spirits from small producers, wines from independent vineyards and decor executed by local artists. Sauvage is not a textbook restaurant — we wanted it be a reflection of what we enjoy. We love natural wines, interesting cocktails and good yet simple food. The design is also a reflection of things we love — some old and some new. Sauvage is a wild and natural contemporary American restaurant.
This team came together naturally from Maison Premiere, where [Boissy] and Krystof Zizka are also the owners. We’ve learned that Chef Lisa is more talented than she was able to prove in the limited kitchen at Maison Premiere. With Sauvage, Lisa was brought on as a partner. Smart was also brought on as a partner.
Will Elliott, Maison Premiere’s Bar Director, and a James Beard Award winning bartender has proven himself to be a fully dedicated team member for the past five years, and believes in all the same things we believe in.
Michael Smart of Urban Aesthetics is the metal worker and craftsman behind the execution of almost every piece of the decor. He is a trained sculptor who has been doing craftwork since 1992. Smart is somewhat of a historian when it comes to restoration of 16th, 17th and 18th century antiques.
The light fixtures were based on an Art Nouveau architecture book that [Boissy] was inspired by, and Smart replicated them, then added on a mirror pendant. A local glassblower executed the iridescent glass pieces.
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS FOR THE SPACE WHEN YOU BEGAN?
I was very aware of the fact that the restaurant was on a corner. I spent a lot of mornings standing there and feeling it out. It was important to me to think about design in a way that paid homage to the space. What struck me first was the idea of a café with lots of natural light, big awnings, windows, tables, doors and lots of plants. Similar to the way a Parisian café is a cultural hub, I wanted Sauvage to be a place that is part of the heartbeat of the city. This is a place you want to be when the sun rises, hence why we added a takeout window and will be serving breakfast, lunch, and brunch very soon.
The colors of Sauvage are clean and meticulous, because you don’t want to look at a distressed wall in the morning. Light yellow and soft pink are incorporated — they are offered as soft hues, rather than overtly feminine. My background in fashion as a Wilhelmina model played a role in my understanding of color, as well as texture. I was also influenced by the various decadent hotels and bars I have visited around the world, which offer beautiful woodwork, brass and rich leather.
Smart drew and crafted the sconces. These are reminiscent of fixtures from the 1930s when everything was rounded.
DID YOU HAVE DESIGN IDEAS IN MIND BEFORE WORKING WITH URBAN AESTHETICS OR DID THEY HELP INSPIRE PLANS FOR THE SPACE?[Boissy] designed and conceptualized all plans for artwork, fixtures, tables, chairs, awnings, curtains and more. Then, each element was discussed together with Smart, and through their collaboration, each piece was brought to life.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF DESIGNING YOUR RESTAURANT?
My favorite memory of designing the restaurant is the week that we opened. I spent time in the space alone for 15 months, feeling as if I was moving just one brick a day… But to be there the day before we opened when the tables were set, uniforms were on, music was playing, and plants potted — that was the most exciting and memorable moment. For me to stop and look back and see Sauvage come to life was very gratifying and special.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? (FROM A DECOR/DESIGN STANDPOINT)
The biggest challenge were the vintage mirrors. I wanted mirrors everywhere — on the bathroom ceilings, behind bar, along the walls. Yet, most of the glass arrived cut incorrectly, and worse yet, we learned that the ceilings and walls were not level. Because mirror can’t bend, we spent roughly three months adjusting them quarter inch by quarter inch to fit perfectly.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEAT IN THE HOUSE?
My favorite seat in the house is the round table in the corner leather banquette because you can see the bar, the storefront, all the tables, the front door and the bartenders. It is the best place to feel the liveliness of the space.
WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION YOU’VE HEARD TO THE SPACE SO FAR?
The best reaction I’ve heard to the space so far is that it feels like you’re on vacation. This means we achieved what we wanted — to create an experience. Since there are so many different influences for the design elements, people can’t quite pinpoint it, but to hear that it feels like vacation is to have successfully relayed the fun and energetic feel we wanted. Sauvage is colorful, full of energy and youthfulness.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT SAUVAGE?
You will have fun and you will find value for your money. We offer a certain decadence, yet we are very reasonably priced. If our guests can feel like they’ve had a valuable experience, if we can at least achieve that, we will be happy.