Farewell, Florent: New York Loses a Mecca of Cool

Manhattan's meatpacking district used to be just that: a few blocks in New York City choked with butchers and wheezing freight trucks.

Today, however, the neighborhood is a trendy, well-known spot for some of New York City's fanciest shops and restaurants. (Think Sex and the City, which some people blame for the neighborhood's demise.)

When I walked around the Meat Market on Sunday, I saw a sign bolted on a building for a long-departed tenant: "Lambs Unlimited." Underneath, people ate brunch on white tablecloths to music played by a turntable DJ. On the next block, a Helmut Lang store. Around the corner, Restaurant Florent.

Founded in 1985, Florent is set to close June 29. The landlord raised the monthly rent from $6,000 to $30,000, and owner Florent Morellet's counteroffer of $18,000 was not accepted.

With that, it's the end of an era for a famous restaurant and one of Manhattan's storied neighborhoods.

Watch our video for more about Morellet, the man behind the beloved downtown mecca. For an inside story about the "hostess with the beehive," visit the Bryant Park Project blog.

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