Taking up residence in the North Loop‘s historic Ribnick Furs building, Maison Margaux is equal parts French brasserie, curated event center and sultry subterranean speakeasy. Nearly two years in the making, this Moulin Rouge–inspired eatery by celebrated Twin Cities chef/restaurateur David Fhima and his family makes its official debut this Friday, May 12.
Maison Margaux offers a feast for the senses, from the delectable modern French fare (think short ribs Bourguignon, frog legs Provençal and the like) to the cushy velvet banquettes throughout the main-floor dining room to the original artwork adorning the walls across all three levels, like the spirited works by self-taught mixed-media artist Stephanie Dillon.
“The dining experience at Maison is meant to emulate the ambiance of a home,” explains Lori Fhima, David’s wife and partner in crime in the family’s epicurean empire, including fine-dining fixture Fhima’s and Mother Dough bakery. “Each room has unique wallpaper, chairs and textures so that guests feel as if they are in a friend’s dining room. The hospitality is as comfortable as if you were in your family’s home for dinner.” The Fhima family has also made a pledge to the community, promising to provide its staff livable wages and benefits, help create a diverse food justice platform, and support food-insecure areas through nonprofit partnerships and donations.
Meaning “house of pearl,” Maison Margaux is truly a “pearl discovered in the midst of the storm” of the pandemic, when the Fhimas purchased this storied structure. And it’s a lifelong dream realized for David, who for years yearned to open a classic French bistro. He and his family lovingly restored the iconic space while simultaneously breathing new life into it. No detail from floor to ceiling was overlooked, thanks to partners like Firm Ground architecture, BKBM Engineers and Greiner Construction, among others.
“We are not new to businesses in historic spaces,” shares Lori. “As a family, we love historic buildings and things with amazing character. We treasure the opportunity to be the caretakers of each space and feel honored to be able to do so. The walls, the wood and the spaces carry the energy of the past, and we relish in and build on that energy.” It truly has been a family affair, with David and Lori’s son, Eli, working alongside the celebrated chef for the past four years as director of operations, helping the family business weather the storm of the pandemic and bringing both Mother Dough and Maison Margaux to life.
Original artwork was key in carrying that historic energy forward at Maison Margaux. For assistance on that front, the Fhimas turned to Dillon, their longtime creative collaborator. “Stephanie has been an integral part of our restaurant art design for years,” Lori explains. “We never thought Fhima’s needed art until Stephanie walked through the doors and revealed her vision. Once we witnessed her magic, we knew this would be a long-lasting collaboration. She created the decor for Mother Dough and has been working on art for Maison since we purchased the building. She has a sixth sense about spaces and a vision of what can work where.”
At Maison Margaux, Dillon’s artistic superpower is on full display. “The art at Maison was created specifically for Maison,” Lori says. “Each piece incorporates textures and designs from the rest of the restaurant, whether that’s the tile, wallpaper or flooring.” It perfectly complements the delectable French bistro cuisine, making for a fully sensory experience — one that will have diners feeling perfectly at home at this highly anticipated new eatery that feels perfectly at home in this historic hot spot.