Meatpacking District: Though it's been soft open for about a week now, R&L Restaurant held their grand re-opening last night, offering free dinner and drinks for family, friends, and anyone who happened by the restaurant. After the crushing four month DOH shuttering the restaurant experienced after reopening in the iconic Florent space this July, the new owners know it's going to need all the help it can get to both win over the nabe and remind everyone of its existence.
As was the case back when R&L briefly opened this summer, the space looks almost the same (minus Florent Morellet's decorating flourishes), with a number of the same FOH and BOH staff members and an identical menu—same font, same items, same sidebars, identical. Here's something that wasn't necessarily identical: the playlist. Featured last night were Shakira, Ricky Martin, and "We Like to Party" of Six Flags commercials fame. (The handful of children there loved it.)
However, the most interesting part of the evening was the letter offered to all locals in which Florent's ex-landlord and the new restaurant owner, Joanne Lucas, lets everyone know that a) she was there even before Florent b) he was just in the right place at the right time and c) it was a "climate of change" that pushed him out, not her:
In 1955 Ari Lucas opened the R&L restaurant, which soon became synonymous with the Meatpacking District. The real R&L became a popular meeting place for the many workers who populated the area since the 1930's when the Gansevoort Market was in its heyday as the premier market for beef distribution in the New York area.R&L is open 7 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 24 hours Thursday - Sat.
For the next 30 years the R&L Restaurant was Ari's place, known for the real down to earth food and prices that all could afford.
In 1985, Ari's oldest daughter Joanne took over the restaurant and proceeded to rent it to Florent Morellet, an art dealer and fledgling restaurateur. In the 23 years that Florent owned the restaurant the Meatpacking District went through a great transformation. Although Florent was part of the change, he was able to reap many of the benefits of being at the center of the hottest new area in the city. In 2008, the climate of change, and 23 years in a 24/7 business finally signalled the end of Monsieur Florent and his restaurant.
Joanne decided that in the name of her father and the Lucas family she would again lay claim to the ownership of the R&L. It may be just a coincidence, but Florent never changed the green and silver sign above the front of the restaurant. It read "R&L Restaurant." So, as we embark on a new era for this venerable 53 year old establishment, the Lucas family looks forward to again renewing the tradition that was started by dad Ari in 1955.
The Lucas Family
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· FlorentWire: R&L Restaurant Open, Empty, Sad [~E~]