Florent, Well-Liked Meatpacking District Bistro, to Close June 29

Florent, the long-standing neighborhood 24-hour bistro that's welcomed 7a.m. clubbers and regular folk alike since 1985, has been warning of its demise for months now. The owner, Florent Morellet, vowed to stay open for as long as he could. Now it's official: the last day of business will be June 29th—the rent went up to over $30,000 a month. Frank Bruni eulogizes the restaurant in the NYT today—comedian Jackie Hoffman tells him, "It was kind of like the halfway house of restaurants. If there was a pre-op tranny or someone who just wasn't finished yet, or a burn victim — anyone could go in there and not be judged." Meanwhile, Florent Morellet himself explains why he didn't want press hype in the early days—and what he did to restaurant reviewers who betrayed his wishes.

MR. MORELLET: I didn't want any press. I was so scared because I'd seen so many restaurants opening with a bang, big media, blah-blah-blah. And it's a disaster.

MR. RUBINSTEIN: I must have gone in there at least a half-dozen times before I wrote about it. Then the review came out, and I remember being home on a Saturday night, and the phone rang at about 8 o'clock, and it was Florent, furious. Furious.

MR. MORELLET: After he wrote it I called him and yelled at him and I said, "Listen!" I put the phone up to the din of the dining room, which was really loud, and hung up.

MR. RUBINSTEIN: He basically started with a stream of invectives that went on for five minutes. He cursed me out. I'd betrayed him. Destroyed him. He called me every word in the book. He slammed the phone down. The phone rang two minutes later.

MR. MORELLET: And then I called him back and I said: "Come over. We have to have dinner."

Restaurant Florent Takes Its Final Bows [NYT]