Julie and Benjamin Thibault-Dury

When you’re an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be afraid of acrobatics. Julie and Benjamin Thibault-Dury know it better than anyone. The French couple, installed in New York with their child, were preparing to sign the lease for their future restaurant when the dreaded Covid-19 forced them to give up (for the moment) on their project.


A bad for a good. Instead of a restaurant, they decided to launch, in October, a virtual “marketplace” which gives pride of place to local products and objects: Closiist. “The biggest marketplaces, like Etsy and Amazon, are global. We wanted to do something for the community“, Explain Benjamin Thibault-Dury.

Before embarking on this new adventure, the tandem intended to open a vegan and local restaurant, Croque-en-Sel, the result of Julie and her husband Benjamin’s experience as caterers in management. The project was very advanced when the Covid hit New York in March. They had spotted a local in Greenpoint in November and envisioned a space of fifty seats, capable of hosting a catering activity too, with a full bar and a backyard. “The landlord was motivated and ready to do a lot of things to make the place better. We had worked with an architect to see what we could do“, precise Benjamin Thibault-Dury. The couple were negotiating the terms of the contract and “about”To sign the lease. “It was a dream to open a restaurant in New York“, He continues.

When they were forced to confine themselves like the rest of the city, the two French people took a step back. “We cannot control the pandemic. We were angry at the time, but we had no choice but to accept the situation“. For lack of prospects, Croque-en-Sel is put on hold. But while working on their project, the duo amassed contacts from suppliers of food products, utensils and objects of all kinds. “We wanted to honor those with whom we wanted to work ”, comments the Frenchman. Closiist was born. “Online commerce is booming and will continue to grow. It makes sense to go in that direction. The idea is not to make an ordinary marketplace. We want to talk about the things we love, convey local values, support local businesses that have suffered a lot with this crisis“.

Closiist will offer, among other things, jams, honey, recycled wood items, hats, toys and other handicrafts, all made or produced in the State or City of New York. Even if their restaurant project will not remain buried for eternity, Julie and Benjamin Thibault-Dury intend to develop Closiist in other cities. “We were lucky not to sign the lease. We would not have paid the rent right away, but we would have wasted time because we would not have been able to do any work in the room“. The Covid is not all bad.


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