Almost three years later and the saga of the old Florent space continues. Back in the summer of 2008, famed Meatpacking District restaurant Florent closed after being pushed out by owner Florent Morellet's landlord. Said landlord, whose family had once run the restaurant there, took over the space and opened the very unsuccessful R&L Restaurant. In September 2009 the space reopened as Gansevoort 69 and then closed in August.
Now, as revealed at last night's Community Board 2 meeting, Remi Laba, of Bagatelle, RDV and Kiss and Fly, is planning at 70-seat wine bar and full-service restaurant there. They'll have 96 bottles on tap at all times with the menu projected onto the counter for customers to make their selections. Laba, when asked how much they would be charging for a glass of wine, he said it'd be "$7 to $15" to even glasses over $100, which astonished one committee member, prompting her to ask, incredulously, "seriously?"
Beyond the pricing, the committee had a lot of problems with the application. There were concerns that the number of seats listed were inconsistent with the stated certificate of occupancy of 74. Then there's the menu of mostly appetizers which one committee member remarked was "thin for a restaurant." Laba responded that the menu was the way it was since they had yet to hire an executive chef—that did not fly with the committee. Another major concern was that a previous applicant had wanted to expand to upper floors, which included the rooftop. Laba stipulated that he wouldn't expand to the rooftop and that any use of the second floor would be for wine tastings or classes. Ultimately, the number of concerns were too high and it was a unanimous vote to reject.
Laba of course, can appeal before the full board, and the SLA has the final say.
—Reporting by Gary Wong
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