Florent Morellet: Rents Too Ritzy for Shabby Block

012508 florent2 web Florent Morellet: Rents Too Ritzy for Shabby BlockFlorent Morellet just called to chat about today’s news that his eponymous eatery may, before too long, close its doors for good.

“It’s funny, the Internet, it’s like SARS,” Mr. Morellet joked, referring to the way today’s news has spread on the Web. “It’s going to be a process. I’ve been a fighter all my life—for my rights, people’s rights,” he said. Mr. Morellet, who is HIV positive, told us that the possible closing has nothing to do with his health. In fact, the restaurateur said he’s in fine shape these days, pointing to a healthy T-cell count (over 800), which is updated on a board in Florent.

Mr. Morellet added that he is heading to court on February 4th to fight his landlord, a woman whose name he wouldn’t disclose. (He did, however, confirm that the owner is neither the Gottleib family nor the descendants of R&L, as was earlier reported elsewhere.) “My landlady made some mistakes about the lease, some major ones,” he said, adding that the space is being shopped around for $70,000 a month.

“That’s a lot of boudin noir!” he laughed.

Mr. Morellet’s lease is up on March 31, so the restaurant, he said, would definitely not close at the end of this month, but he refused to say whether or not he plans to renew the lease in the spring. “Rents are getting sky-high in this neighborhood. The block [of Gansevoort St., where Florent is located] looks a little bit shabby at the moment,” he told the Daily Transom.

“Florent is more than just a restaurant,” Mr. Morellet continued, “It’s been so much a part of the neighborhood and I’ve been getting such an outpouring of sympathy from people. We’re going to be around for a little while. I’m looking forward to having another gay-pride event!”

He told us that he will know much more after the the court hearing next month, adding: “Life is like this—you know!”