On November 13, 2015, 89 people were killed at the Bataclan Theater in Paris during a series of coordinated terrorist attacks throughout France. Several gunmen took hostages at the Eagles of Death Metal concert, which led to a stand-off with police. Several attackers were shot or died from self-inflicted bomb explosions when police raided the building.
Just over two years later, the café inside the theater has reopened under new management.
“They asked me if I was interested in running the Bataclan... and I thought about it a lot. I had a lot of apprehension,” new Grand Café Bataclan manager Michel Maallem told Vice Munchies. “I asked the people around me what they thought — my wife, my friends, my family. And they said, ‘Go for it. There’s no reason for you not to. Life goes on.’”
The eatery has an all-new look, too. Five months of renovations have freshened the structure and décor, and with an acclaimed chef running the kitchen, customers are expected to have less of a “meh” experience. Chef Marc Souton, who has worked in four- and five-star hotels, offers Parisian cuisine including cheese and charcuterie boards, croque monsieur or madame, steak tartare, tortiglioni in truffle sauce, and homemade terrine.
Both men vividly remember the night of the attacks and think about it often. But they’re proud to be taking part in the restoration of the historic facility.
“You don’t think about it every day, but you think about it,” Souton told Vice Munchies. “It’s part of us now.”
The reopening of the cafe at the Bataclan is one example of how life can carry on in the wake of tragedy. Food and community spaces are essential aspects of the Parisian identity — perhaps one of the reasons why the city's restaurants feature so heavily in our list of the 101 best restaurants in Europe.