On this new episode of Savoir Vivre, we meet founder of Bob’s Juice Shop and Bakery, Marc Grossman. Pioneer entrepreneur of “well-being” in Paris, former student of Harvard University and filmmaker, Marc meets us today to discuss the wellness revolution in Paris and his professional experiences in the field. Marc’s sharp personality and contagious enthusiasm is sure to please.
Not Marc’s, but Bob’s?
I didn’t want to call it Marc’s. Marc’s is not American enough, and it’s a French first name too, Bob’s sounds more American. I thought a lot about the name for my business, like when choosing the name for a baby.
Did you always have a healthy lifestyle?
I was born in Manhattan and didn’t necessarily grow up with a “healthy lifestyle,” but I frequented juice bars from a young age. I also spent a lot of time in LA, where juicing and juice bars are just normal, they’re kind of like boulangeries in Paris. When I arrived in Paris, I noticed immediately that these kind of places did not exist, and I realized that I missed them. So I said to myself, there are definitely other people that are looking for juice bars too – I am the person that should do this, it would work. At first, it was just an idea, but it became my fantasy. It finally became a reality when I signed the lease on the space in 2016.
Was it an immediate success?
I had customers, except I wasn’t making tons of money. But at the same time, I didn’t have huge expenses. A few months after it opened I published a recipe book. I had a bit of press so the timing was right. I was at the right place at the right time.
The first menu?
At first Bob’s was only juices made to order. But I realized very quickly that this offer was too small. So we added salads, muffins, things that go well with juice. Almost immediately there were two offers – “healthy” juices and American pastries. We mixed juices and pastries. It’s not necessarily always healthy, but we have options for everyone.
Are your bagels homemade?
Now yes, the recipe is in my recipe book. But at the first we bought the bagels from New York, frozen bagels from H&H. I don’t think they exist anymore, or they changed the time. Except I thought it was a shame not to have fresh bagels and I wanted to make them myself.
Your vision of wellbeing?
I find that there is a big misunderstanding of this term. For me, how is more important than what. But there will always be people that say, “you must do this” or “you must be vegetarian.” And at the end of the day, everyone has their own habits. No, in theory a bagel isn’t healthy, but if you eat a bagel on Sunday and are conscious of it, the bagel can be healthy. There are people that eat a lot of cheese. I can’t eat digest lactose, so cheese isn’t good for me. But for someone else cheese can be good. The experience of the meal is the most important, the vibes too.
Your wellness routine?
I’m really extreme. Either I’m really healthy, or I’m really unhealthy. Sometimes in the morning I have toast with black tea. But other times I’ll be in a detox phase and I’ll eat completely raw. It’s part of the reason I created Bob’s…sometimes I am looking for detox, sometimes I am looking for pancakes, I like to have these two possibilities. I have a very addictive personality, so I go to extremes naturally. Ironically, today I am detoxing. I have been for the past two days because I’ve been so toxic recently that I had to cut out everything. It wasn’t only food and I wasn’t doing crazy extreme things but I was really stressed out and working way too much. I was obsessed with lots of things. It didn’t do me well to drink 5 coffees per day, to eat tons of sugar and late at night. For me to get out of this spiral I have to cut out everything. So today I am eating lots of fruits and drinking a little coffee. Today I can’t cut out the coffee, but maybe tomorrow.
Your best wellbeing tip?
Don’t eat at night. Based on my experience and research, this is the most important thing to follow. Also – fast for 12 hours, aka stop eating at 8pm and then eat breakfast the next day at 8am. Personally, if I am able to not eat at night, I wake up with tons of energy. If I eat late at night, even if it’s just a salad with quinoa, I wake up stressed out because I didn’t sleep well. I’m moody and my problems give me anxiety.
Your tips for success, while remaining balanced?
I have almost always been characterized as “stressed. I was dyslexic, I changed school 4 times, etc. Honestly, I only started to read when I was 10. It was at this moment that I started to get serious about school. I realized that if I worked hard I would be successful. So I worked like a manic. I was always afraid of missing out on an opportunity, which in my opinion should be avoided at all costs. If you have this attitude, and you work 4 times harder than others, you will succeed. At Harvard, I calmed down a bit because I realized I had made it to “paradise”. But I also realized that in the end, Harvard was not paradise. We are never content with our success. I try to distance myself from this idea because I see that it is a never ending cycle.
How do you manage your stress?
Haha… Well, last week I got a phone call from my security system at 2am. They told me that someone tried to break into the Bakeshop. When I arrived to the bakery, I saw that someone broke the lock on the door but were not able to get in. At the same time, I realized one of my refrigerators wasn’t working and that apparently there was a new Trump tax, forcing all international businesses to pay a tax on their business, retroactive from the opening. Oh, and that I would have another pretty important tax to pay to my old business partner…there are always problems in life. But I had told one of my clients I would go to her yoga class, the same day. It has been a really long time since I took a yoga class, even though I used to practice everyday. So I said to myself, no matter what these problems are not going to disappear today. I have to go on with my life, and so I went to the yoga class. And it was really great. It was a step in the right direction. I think that’s why I’m now on a detox. I am taking a lot of steps in the right direction. I try and put things into perspective to be less stressed out.
Today my drug is my work. I work until I’m sick. It’s my power, to work more than everyone else.
Is well-being, being well power in itself?
Well-being is in fact a power, one that that can be used in two ways. To be physically well, to be beautiful. To be fit. That’s the more attractive part, but what do we do with it? Is it just to nourish our ego? Or is it a way to love others? The ego is very smart; it finds it’s way into every situation. For example, you decide to open a juice bar to be a good citizen, to follow a passion… but in another sense, you know that people are going to look at you and say wow… isn’t he healthy, isn’t he nice. And that makes you feel good! So that’s the problem. There’s no reason to judge people because everyone has an ego.
The problem with the 21st century?
In this day and age, we need to share, we don’t have a choice. Back when I opened Bob’s yes we had a website, but it’s nothing like the way things are today with social media. Today there is no choice but to be engaged. These days it is somewhat politically correct to say “I make a lot of money, my business is booming.” This is something that really bothers me. Today to succeed with the algorithm, you become an exhibitionist. For example, show me your butt…if you are a woman and you show your butt, you get a lot of likes on the photo. But do you want to show your butt? Or is it just to get likes?
Your Parisian cantine?
I really like IMA on the Canal, it makes me think of Bob’s a little. Except normally I avoid these kind of places, because they make me think of work. I don’t go out much at night. I am kinda cheap and I think about what we pay at a restaurant and how much it would cost to make it at home. I do like eating in Chinatown for Vietnamese food and soups. The Chinatown near Arts and Metiers. I really like Le Petit Cambodge and Le Cambodge. I usually get takeout. They make a good soup. They’re really pro and quick. They are pretty reliable too. I also like going to Shakespeare & Co. There’s a Bob’s café there, but even if there wasn’t, I would still go.