The restaurant that started it all on Smith Street just kissed Brooklyn goodbye.
In what could be seen as the biggest betrayal of Brooklyn since Walter O’Malley took the Dodgers to LaLa land, Patois owner Alan Harding has reopened his closed Smith Street eatery … in Manhattan.
Harding, who initially told The Brooklyn Paper that he planned to reopen the French eatery elsewhere in Carroll Gardens, now says he’s relocating to Manhattan because the Brooklyn suburb is, get this, less expensive.
“It’s too pricey [in Carroll Gardens],” said Harding, who paid $900 a month in rent when he opened the pioneering Patois in 1997, and claimed that an exorbitant rent hike forced him to close in January.
“The whole reason we opened in Brooklyn was because we couldn’t afford in Manhattan,” said Harding, who said he did search for a new site for Patois near the old spot between Douglass and Degraw streets. “Now Brooklyn is too expensive.”
“The new space [on Mulberry Street] is about the same amount of money that we were paying,” added Harding, who informed the neighborhood by posting a hand-written sign in the window.
Carroll Gardens real estate brokers declined to comment on whether Manhattan rents could actually be cheaper than Smith Street — though they acknowledged that storefronts on the hip stretch are costly.
For their part, locals were surprised to hear that Patois said au revoir to Brooklyn — for Gaphattan of all places.
“I’m kind of shocked,” said Carroll Gardens resident Tom Estrabrook. “You hear more of the city jumping ship for Brooklyn, not the other way around.”
But Harding — who is also behind eateries including the Gowanus Yacht Club, Pacifico and Sweetwater — defended the move and said he was optimistic about the new location near the corner of Broome Street.
“I’m shooting for the stars with this restaurant,” he said of the Manhattan eatery, which boasts 35 seats and full a bar. “I would like to be reviewed in the Times properly — no disrespect to your fine paper — instead of being written up in local Brooklyn fish wraps.”
Thanks for the kind words. Good luck and good riddance.
— with Dustin Seplow