When I was back in New York earlier this month, I took one of my best friends to the rotating bar on top of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. She had no idea it was there. I told her that it was full of Midwestern families and European tourists who didn’t know any better, and that it was we who love our city so much who didn’t know any better for not going up there. It’s a fucking cheesy rotating restaurant on top of a mid-70s monstrosity for God’s sake. But the views are amazing and one martini will get you one revolution.

When I paid the bill, I chatted up the waitress. She’d been working there a long time. We joked about the hokeyness of it all but then glanced outside and admired the city at dusk. Then, out of the blue, she said, “You know that Florent is closing, don’t you?”

“What!? How can Florent close? It’s an institution. I’ve been going there since I first moved to New York in the mid 90s. Why are they closing?”

“Their rent just went up five times. They can’t afford the Meat Packing District anymore. You know how that place is.”

So on Sunday, June 29th, Florent will say au revoir, adios, sayonara and goodbye.

I met another one of my best friends at Florent for brunch the following Sunday. I told him that the restaurant was closing and given that I live in Tokyo, it would be the last time I ever ate there.

He said, “It’s pure economics.”

He’s a former trader who got out when the getting was good and sees everything through an unsentimental lens of brutal clarity.

“Just look at the neighborhood now. It’s not the same Meatpacking District,” he said. “Money goes where it’s hot. Soon it will be another neighborhood.”

A group of men in drag were seated at the table next to us. I heard the waiter playfully curse out the cook in Mexican Spanish slang. There was a morning runner sipping his coffee at the counter while he read The Times. Next to him a married couple, the husband’s arm around his wife.

I remembered the old Meat Packing District when Hell‘s red door was just down the meat-scrapped sidewalk from The Lure. I used to shoot pool at The Lure because it was a friendly place to just hang. And besides, who doesn’t want to play a friendly round with a Leather Daddy in chaps? I’d go to Hell for a martini afterwards. And these were weekday nights when I just wanted to go out and do something on my own. Occasionally I’d pop into Florent for a late-night snack, but even on those nights I didn’t, I liked passing by the neon sign just to know it was there.

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