Chats / Claire Chan of Bar Beau + The Elk

October 23, 2018

Courtesy of WWD

Meet Claire Chan, the restaurateur behind the rustic West Village cafe, The Elk. She now brings us Bar Beau, the Williamsburg bar serving coffee by day and cocktails by night. We sat with Claire to chat about her passion for food + hospitality and how she transitioned from the fashion industry to the culinary scene.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I am from Vancouver BC Canada, and I have lived in New York City for the last 10 years. I moved here to pursue a career in fashion, and after a few years of working in the fashion industry I decided to pivot into my true passion for the hospitality industry. In 2014, I opened THE ELK in the West Village, and now I’ve recently opened Bar Beau in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

What inspired you to transition from fashion to food?

I have always been inspired by the sense of community that food can create. I want our guests to feel comfortable and at home when they visit us, and I think food has a way of making people feel that way. I love that about it and I love how inclusive it is.

Explain the concept behind Bar Beau.

Bar Beau is a home away from home, where quality and guest experience is at the forefront of everything we do. During the daytime, we serve a selection of specialty coffee drinks and local pastries in our front café space. At night, we morph into a cocktail bar and restaurant in our back area. We serve rotating house cocktails as well as all the classics, along with a beer and wine program that emphasizes local and natural. We also feature a seasonally curated menu of small-larger share plates using Asian ingredients in unique and unpredictable ways. Our menu is meant to be shared and layered upon, and enjoyed in an interactive way.

Describe the vibe of Bar Beau in 5 words or less.

Local, thoughtful, knowledgeable, tasteful, heartfelt

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from opening The Elk that you applied to Bar Beau?

Ask for help when you need it, and surround yourself with support both personally and professionally!

What part of this new project has been the most fun?

Working with all sorts of talented and creative people – from our culinary and beverage consultants, to our dear design/architect team who helped to create our beautiful space.

How did you decide on the name?

Beau is the name of my nephew.

What makes a great café?

First and foremost, great coffee. Nice vibes don’t hurt either.

Who/what inspires you in the food world? What about in the non-food world?

New York is chalk-full of inspiration! We are so lucky. To name just a few places and people: Estela, Marlow & Sons, Jean Georges, Andre Balazs, and the Soho Houses.

Outside of food, what are your passions?

Travel, art, fashion, music, the ocean

If I weren’t in the food industry, I would be:

An architect.

Claire’s Guide to Soho:






Gimmie Coffee






The Mercer


McNally Jackson


Cafe Select

Contact your concierge to book a table at the all new Bar Beau.