Tribecan Michelle Gauthier, whose restaurant chain Mulberry & Vine started here, has died

Longtime Tribecan Michelle Gauthier, who started the healthy fast casual restaurant Mulberry & Vine here on Warren Street in 2013 and went on to open five more locations in the city, died on Sept. 4 at the age of 54. There is a service tonight at 6:30 at Tribeca 360, 10 Desbrosses. Michelle was a lovely woman — creative, energetic, thoughtful — and this is a horrible loss for her family and the neighborhood.

When Michelle and a partner opened the restaurant a decade ago — and this is hard to imagine — fast casual and kale were not standard fare. It was still hard then to get healthy food quickly, and Michelle, who owned clothing boutiques in New Orleans and a furniture shop in Nolita before she took on this project, saw an opportunity to serve the food she and her friends liked to eat without investing in a full-service restaurant. The idea was a hit with diners, but after a tough first year and a half, she realized she would have to scale the operation to get out of the day-to-day operations. She opened Nomad in 2015 and by 2018, added three more locations — two in Midtown and one in Dumbo.

“At first I really didn’t know what I was doing and operationally, we were losing money every month,” Michelle told me when we talked about the business in 2020. “Then we finally understood who our customer was, and who *we* needed to be, streamlined a few things, and turned it into a real business — not just a side project that seemed like it would be fun.”

Michelle had great instincts for business for sure, but also great taste — the space was beautiful (a remarkable conversion for what was an office for the 45 years prior) and in fact the new operators on Warren have barely changed a thing. You know when a new restaurant opens and you think, this will never fly here? With Mulberry & Vine, it was exactly the opposite. An hour after it opened, Erik Torkells called it “the restaurant many Tribecans have been waiting for.”

There were regularly lines down the block for lunch, and still, in about 2017 she lowered her prices at the suggestion of regulars. By 2019 she had six locations. It was covid, and the disappearance of the office worker, that forced her to close in spring 2022.

Michelle raised two sons here, JW and Rome, who are now teenagers. Their father, her ex-husband John Graham, predeceased her several years ago. She is survived by her mother, Anne, sisters Cherie and Celeste, brothers-in-laws Kevin Lirette and Joey Lepow, nephew Trenton (Jen), niece Maddie, and an extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as many, many friends. “She was very much loved and will be terribly missed,” her family wrote in her obituary.

Michelle lived here as well as Sagaponack but her ties are still strong in New Orleans, where she was raised and where most of her family still lives. There will be a second service there on Monday, Sept. 11, at Holy Name Church followed by a private burial. The family plans to establish a scholarship for emerging chefs in Michelle’s honor.



  1. This is so sad. She was a lovely woman.

  2. Thank you for this lovely tribute to Michelle. She loved Tribeca and being part of that community.

  3. This is so sad in so many ways. Praying for her children.

  4. This is very sad news indeed. Mulberry & Vine was my favorite easy/ healthy/ affordable weekday lunch spot and still to this day no other restaurant has been able to replace it. Praying for her children.

  5. We recently had the privilege of getting to know one of her sons. He is kind, smart, respectful and a great cook. We are very saddened by his loss as well as the rest of the family’s. Praying for all.