Volume 73, Number 25 | October 22 - 28, 2003



Market’s Florent to Starbucks: Right buck at ya

When Florent Morellet heard rumors a Starbucks was moving into the Meat Market, the cafe owner wasn’t about to wait around and smell the coffee. Instead, he devised a three-part plan to out-Starbucks Starbucks.

First, Morellet, who owns Florent, at 69 Gansevoort St., has introduced a new coffee cup with a green Florent logo, mimicking Starbucks’. Also, he is now offering a continental breakfast with croissants from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition, the pioneering Meat Market eatery will now be open around the clock, seven days a week.

Two weeks ago, The Villager reported that Starbucks is said to be interested in the commercial space at Washington and Horatio Sts. where landlord Rockrose is trying to evict City Gourmet Deli, a favorite of local residents. Rockrose says it plans to bring in a “better deli.” A Starbucks spokesperson said they’re not interested in the site — “not yet,” but that “anything can happen.”

But Morellet can see the writing in the latte foam.

“If they are interested, it means they will look for another place [in the Meat Market],” he said. “I said, ‘O.K., we’re going to beat them at their own game.’ It’s like tongue in cheek,” he admitted.

Morellet said a Starbucks wouldn’t be direct competition to him, but admitted, “It’s a challenge.”

The decision to stay open 24 hours is partly to cater to the Meat Market’s new nightclub scene, particularly on Gansevoort St., where places like Meet and Rhone draw a young party crowd.

“We used to be 24/7 until 1990, but after several clubs closed, it was not practical,” Morellet said. “But now I decided to do it again because of Starbucks and because there are new clubs in the area.”

The downside is that some patrons from the new nightspots have been coming in drunk lately, prompting Morellet to remark, “I think Gansevoort needs some more stores because it’s too many bars.”

In response, he plans to become more exclusive from midnight to 7 a.m. and hire a bouncer.

“Now we are going to be a little bit more clubby and choosy,” he said. “It used to be a speakeasy in the late ’20s. So we are going back to our roots.”


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