After a career that was light years away from the world of socca and pissaladière, Julien embraced a major challenge: taking over his father-in-law’s business at the Condamine market. He is the lastest in our series of portraits dedicated to Monaco entrepreneurs.
It is one of the Principality’s institutions. “Chez Roger”, in the Condamine market hall, delights customers every day with its soccas and pissaladières, all handmade. But since 2019, Roger is no longer the one behind the counter. In his place is his son-in-law, Julien, who manages the preparation of the dishes, and looks after the store and sales, on his own.
Julien, who hails from Villefranche-sur-Mer, by no means set out to work in this branch. “I’ve had an atypical career path,” he says. I did a baccalaureate in electro-technical engineering. But I didn’t enjoy it at all. I then went to business school in Nice, specialising in marketing. But they weren’t hiring in the field at the time. »
After a career as a sales representative in the event management field, then training in insurance and asset management, Julien Bravetti finally found a path that appealed to him: banking advisor in Monaco, at the Société Générale in La Condamine then at its Fontvieille branch.
An institution that owes its existence to the Princely Family
Ten years later, the young man took a whole new turn: taking over his father-in-law Roger’s business, which started out in Monaco in 1976. A start that the Princely Family had a hand in.
“My father-in-law often told this story”, says Julien. He had met Monsignor Rainier and the Prince had said to him: ‘So my boy, what can you do?’ My father-in-law replied: ‘I can make socca and pissaladière’. The Prince helped and encouraged him, and they kept in touch afterwards. (…) Roger talked about how little Prince Albert II would come with his father and sit on the counter to eat socca.”
And this bond between the Princely Family and “Chez Roger” has never been broken. Forty years later, Prince Albert II was back at the market hall, for the handover between Roger and his son-in-law.
A family business through and through
However, passing the torch was by no means straightforward. Julien can attest he had a hard time convincing Roger to hand over his business, when they learned he was suffering from cancer in 2017.
“When he fell ill, it was closed for eleven months. He did not want me to take over his business, but I kept pushing so it wouldn’t be lost. During the closure, there was a real show of solidarity to encourage him, to convince him to reopen. Everyone said that the socca at the market was an institution, that people had grown up with it … When he finally reopened he was very tired and needed help from someone. I left the bank and started a few days later.”
For a year and a half, the two men worked together. Completely new to the field of socca and pissaladière, Julien learned everything at his father-in-law’s side. Quite a few were skeptical about the move: “My father-in-law was temperamental. A lot of people thought we wouldn’t manage to get along. And in fact, it went really well ” Julien recalls.
Traditional and authentic know-how
It was with complete peace of mind that Roger entrusted the keys to his store to his son-in-law before retiring for good, very diminished by his illness. After the death of his father-in-law in January 2019, Julien Bravetti wanted to keep all the know-how of his mentor, to guarantee customers the same quality of products.
“I didn’t change a thing. That was my deliberate intention: for things to be just like what Roger did. My pissaladières are stretched by hand, all my onions are fresh, peeled every day … I wanted to stay traditional.”
A family business that uses traditional methods was reassuring for customers, most of whom remained loyal to the institution. Very happy to serve a very local and regular clientele, Julien Bravetti does not intend to leave Monaco, nor to consider expanding. “I need to be here. This is my baby here, I feel good where I am,” he admits.
The only small regret in this extraordinary journey: not having had the time to learn to cook other products, as Roger, a trained baker, had promised him. “It’s a shame, we missed out. Once I have renovated the stall, maybe we can add one or two more products?” A project which, he promises, will always respect tradition, handmade products and the know-how of his father-in-law.