Volume 78 / Number 6 - July 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Florent Morellet, right, and a fan celebrate his restaurant’s closing while standing atop the counter with a giant Marie Antoinette cake.
C’est la vie: Florent packs it in; Adieu to Meatpacking

By Gabriel Zucker

“I realized a long time ago that being angry and staying angry only hurts oneself,” said Florent Morellet, speaking two days after his famed Florent diner closed in the Meat Market.

The activist/restaurateur’s long-running 24-hour French restaurant was pushed out of the hyper-trendy district by skyrocketing rent.

“We had five weeks of celebration: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which was perfect for Gay Pride week,” Morellet, 55, said of his grand finale.

Each week’s celebration was led by “talented, quirky” performances on the restaurant’s counter, he said. “It was probably a first, to have a restaurant holding a party celebrating depression,” he noted.

Morellet hoped that the “five stages” had helped people get over their anger at his closing.

“Through the restaurant, I’ve been able to help people deal with change,” he said. He said he was not bitter about losing his lease.

“As far as I know, we’re in a capitalist society,” he said matter of factly. If people want to limit development, he added, they “should look into that and not just be angry.”

On Sun., June 29, after the restaurant had served its final meals, Morellet, friends and his longtime staff gathered for what he termed the “last supper,” which featured speeches from atop the restaurant’s counter and a 75-pound cake shaped like Marie Antoinette. The cake was later decapitated.

Moving forward, Morellet intends to spend his free time doing art, working on Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee and perhaps writing a book, which likely would focus on the restaurant.

“Sometimes, it’s good to get kicked out of doing something,” he reflected. “When you’re good at something, sometimes you just do it until the day that you die. And that’s pathetic.”

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