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Meatpacking Mainstay Florent May Close in May

Yesterday Eater broke news that Florent’s landlord has been showing the building to potential tenants (Eater originally misidentified the landlord, so take that rumor for what it’s worth). Florent’s future has been tenuous for some time now — a June 2007 Daily News item mentions owner Florent Morellet trying to renegotiate his lease while neighbors closed shop. We’re hearing from one source that Florent’s lease is up in May, after which Florent will close. Another source says that Morellet planned to sell the business because his health is worsening (his T-cell count is displayed on one of the menu boards). So was it the Florent space that Anthony Martignetti was referring to when he told us he was considering opening a restaurant near Pastis? Who knows, it may also have been the old Rhone space, abandoned by Double Seven. Morellet wasn’t available for comment today, but we’ll keep you posted on what may be a double blow (remember, Passerby will soon close) to the meatpacking district. Update: Asked whether Anthony Martignetti is considering the Florent space, a rep tells us she has no new information at this time. Note: She didn't say, “No.” Related: SHOCK CLAIM: Florent Restaurant to Close This Year? [Eater] Paris Shaped by the Pen [NYDN] Earlier: Anthony Martignetti Plots a New Restaurant Over Croissants at Pastis Passerby Hasn’t Quite Passed On

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Keith McNally Sued; Huckabee Serves Clam Chowder in New Hampshire

According to a new class-action suit being brought against Keith McNally, servers at Pastis and Balthazar were forced to foot the bill for customers who walked out on their checks, in addition to being denied minimum wage. [NYP] Frank Bruni, like many other critics, believes a restaurant’s chicken dishes speak volumes about its overall quality. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] E-mails sent by Starbucks Corp. managers reveal their efforts to prevent unionizing among their employees, although labor experts say the activity is not illegal. [WSJ]

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Jennifer Garner Likes the Food at Fiamma More than Padma Did

The week’s most exciting celebrity sighting was that of beer-sippin’ McLovin at Diner. No other celebs were busted getting their underage drink on, but there were other surprises: Rachael Ray rolled into the Orchard with a posse bigger than Diddy’s, and Jennifer Garner liked the food at Fiamma so much she slipped into the kitchen to beg Fabio Trabocchi for recipes. We figure that makes up for supposedly getting dissed by Padma Lakshmi a couple weeks ago. (And yes, there a Padma sighting this week, too…)

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CNBC's Erin Burnett's Favorite Characteristic in a Mate Is Money

Burnett
CNBC business anchor Erin Burnett dreams of men spending copious amounts of dough on her. Gus Wenner, son of Rolling Stone honcho Jann Wenner, was accepted early decision to Brown, and Jack Byrne, son of Ellen Barkin and Gabriel Byrne, was accepted to Bard. Jimmy Fallon and new wife Nancy Juvonen ate at Pastis. An upcoming "oral history" of Rudy Giuliani chronicles the former mayor's "petty, vindictive, small-minded maneuvering." Jay-Z says he is not concerned with the problematic rumors surrounding the opening of his new 40/40 club. Mary-Louise Parker and boyfriend Jeffrey Dean Morgan had coffee at Local on Sullivan Street.

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Find French Onion Soup in Manhattan; A Co-op for Fort Greene?

Bay Ridge: A VFW post has been fined by the Department of Health because its ice machine constituted a need for “food protection certification.” [The Brooklyn Paper] Cobble Hill: Now that the deli and the TV repair shop are gone, we can dream of the G&D Television Wine Bar. [Gowanus Lounge] Forest Hills: A new development threatens restaurant culture, as for-rent signs specify “NO FOOD.” The horror! [Queens Central] Fort Greene: Plans are afoot for a food co-op. Does anything else scream gentrification louder? [The Brooklyn Paper] Manhattan: Look for delicious French onion soup at Pastis, Landmarc, and Rue 57, among others. [Gridskipper] Midtown East: Fireside at the Omni Berkshire Hotel is serving Chuao hot chocolate for $7 a cup — includes whipped cream, crumbled graham crackers, and marshmallows. [Gothamist] Park Slope: Tempo Presto is officially closed. [OTBKB]

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Meatpacking Moguls Remm, Birnbaum, and Rabin on How to Be Cool

TenJune
Our fave waitress Courtney Yates isn’t the only face Belvedere Vodka is using to try to look cool — the company, in association with UrbanDaddy, is running Web interviews with David Rabin, owner of Los Dados and Lotus, and Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum, owners of Tenjune. Remm and Birnbaum don’t exactly steer toward the underexposed when asked for their favorite restaurants: BondSt, Nobu, Bar Pitti, Los Dados, Mr. Chow, the Spotted Pig, Pastis, Buddakan, Dos Caminos Soho, Cipriani, Butter, Rose Bar, and Waverly Inn.

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McNally Unites With the Workers of the World

Keith McNally

Keith McNally can appreciate the effectiveness of a good rally — you’ll recall he personally protested the billboard that’s going up atop the Gansevoort Hotel. So when workers rallied outside of Pastis over the restaurant’s use of provisions from Wild Edibles (which has been sued over allegations of unpaid overtime), you can bet McNally listened. Brandworkers International announced today that Balthazar, Schiller’s, Morandi, Pravda, and Lucky Strike will no longer use products from the company until the dispute is resolved. Comrade McNally, we’re heading to Pravda right now to toast you with a horseradish-and-poached-egg martini. Earlier: Wild Edibles Gets Caught in the Net of the Law

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Wild Edibles Gets Caught in the Net of the Law

In the latest labor-law fiasco, thirteen employees of Wild Edibles, which sells seafood to restaurants like Union Square Cafe and Pastis as well as the general public via its retail stores, have filed a lawsuit against the company for failure to pay overtime. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, David Rankin, and as is evident in copies of the complaint we’ve obtained, the individuals — most of them warehouse workers — worked in excess of 50 hours a week for flat wages varying from $450 to $550 (“right on the edge of minimum-wage violations,” Rankin says, though he decided not to pursue those charges). Rankin also says that four workers were unjustly fired after they requested overtime pay at the end of August, and that another worker was unfairly written up for stealing fish. A motion for a restraining order, which we’ve also obtained, will be heard in court tomorrow. Between the overfishing and underpaying, caviar is truly getting hard to swallow. Cesar A. Barturen, et al. vs. Wild Edibles [PDF] Memorandum in Support of Restraining Order [PDF]

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Is Govind Armstrong Worried Enough About New York?

When top out-of-town chefs move to New York, it’s always a crapshoot. Some, like Fort Worth’s Tim Love, come in conspicuously and wash out; others, like Atlanta’s Sotohiro Kosugi, now at Soto, come in under the radar but quickly grab our attention. L.A.’s Govind Armstrong doesn’t expect much of a problem: The ultra-laid-back chef made South Beach his own and expects New York to treat him equally well. “A lot of New Yorkers come down here to Miami, and I’ve been coming up there forever, so I have a lot of friends to support me,” he tells us. “I’m not trying to reinvent the way New Yorkers eat. But I can’t not grow, you know?”

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Pastis Atop Zagat Nightlife Ratings; City Trans-Fat Seminar Flops

Pastis sits atop Zagat’s just-released nightlife rankings, with Buddha Bar, Balthazar, and Spice Market following close behind. [NYDN] The city invited 33,000 restaurant and food-supply workers to attend their trans-fat seminar, and only 20 showed up. Half of them were city employees. [NYP] Maybe Tony Bourdain doesn’t hate The Next Food Network Star as much as he makes out. Today brings another suspiciously obsessive-sounding post by the acerbic chef-author. [Ruhlman]

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Keith McNally: A Restro-spective

As we noted when we toured the restrooms at Morandi, Keith McNally has pissed away a great deal of money to make his restaurant lavatories the gold standard. When Morandi failed to hit the mark, we were truly bummed, so to restore our faith in the master (and to make sure we weren’t remembering his previous works through Clorox-colored glasses), we decided to embark on an epic stall crawl of McNally’s previous loos, from Pravda’s Commie commodes to (pardon our French) the shitters at Schiller’s. Come flush with us.

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Tom Brady Does Not Love New York, or Bridget Moynahan

Tom Brady put his New York pad up for sale as soon as he found out ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan was pregnant. Speaking of officially pregnant: Naomi Watts. Speaking of maybe pregnant: Christina Aguilera. Hillary Clinton, or someone from her office, got mad at David Geffen for throwing a party last night for Barack Obama. Former As Four designer Kai Kuhne flipped out after his credit card was denied at Sway. A Chelsea nightclub doesn't want handicapped customers upstairs.

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Pelaccio Opens in London; Hotel Gansevoort Boycotted

Zak Pelaccio’s new London restaurant (first announced here) finally opens and issues a press release with a menu. [Snack] In a recent post, we called Michael Ruhlman a mandarin and critiqued his hauteur. Count us wrong on both counts: This response, titled “Grub Street Wankers,” and the vitriol that follows in the comment section, isn’t exactly high-minded. [Ruhlman] Related: In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food Network [Grub Street] The big billboards erected on Hudson Street by the Hotel Gansevoort are so ugly that Pastis’ Keith McNally and 5 Ninth’s Joel Michel are refusing to take hotel reservations in protest. [NYP]

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