If you have never lived in New York, you may not be familiar with Florent. It was a 24-hour diner in the Meatpacking District, founded in 1985, that had to close a few years ago because of a rent hike. New York Magazine ran a lovely homage to the restaurant when they heard the news. Florent was a New York institution, and when its biggest fans found out about its fate, things started disappearing.
Florent has a fervid following that includes (but is not limited to) neighborhood stalwarts, fashion icons, queer activists, famous drag performers, eccentric night owls, club kids, the offspring of club kids, maverick politicians, burlesque dancers, and celebrities ranging from Lou Reed to Sarah Jessica Parker—some of whom, after learning of the restaurant’s impending closure, have developed a nostalgia-induced kleptomania. “The menus, they have started vanishing!” continued Morellet. Wine lists, saucers, coffee cups, cloth napkins, and silverware have also gone missing in recent weeks.
I guess I was no different, but I took something that patrons are expected to snatch as souvenirs at all kinds of venues – matchbooks. They had different illustrations of diner objects on them – a salt shaker, a fork – and each featured a shade of (what I, perhaps inaccurately, remember to be) Florent's signature shade of green on the inside. I took three different ones with me the last time I ever visited the restaurant, intent on memorializing them in some way.
And then, in the confusion of re-organizing during my last move… they disappeared. That is, until the frenzy of making things hit me – I was digging deep in my closet this morning to find acrylic paint, and grabbed a plastic container wondering why the heck I had held onto it. I felt something shake inside. And there they were. I tore into my Florent-green paper, found an empty frame, and now I have a new little friend in my kitchen – one that makes me pause and imagine countless Saturday and Sunday dawns in the 1990s, with gold glitter heels under metal tables, false eyelashes falling into coffee, and cigarette butts strewn into ditches among cobblestones.
Do read the New York Magazine article, regardless of where you live. It's a beautiful time capsule.