Patois — the groundbreaking French bistro that launched the culinary Renaissance of Smith Street — will close on Sunday after 11 years in business.
“It’s sad, it’s the end of an era,” said Alan Harding, the original chef and current co-owner.
It’s hard to tell from the look of it today, but when Harding and sibling partners Jim and Paul Mamary opened Patois in 1997, Smith Street was so depressed that many retail storefronts were used as apartments. The trio’s original rent on the space, between Douglass and Degraw streets, was just $900.
“They paved the way for all of us,” said Charles Kiely, who opened the Grocery in 1999.
“I remember a meal I had there in 1998,” Kiely recalled. “The food was very good. They turned 60 people away in one hour [because it was so busy]. I turned to my wife and said, ‘We have to open a restaurant next door.
Few dispute Patois’s legacy as the linchpin and one of the gustatory highlights — with garlic snails and steak frites — of a sprawling nightlife district, but the circumstances of the restaurant’s closure are unclear.
Harding told The Brooklyn Paper that the family that owns Patois’s building had sought a huge hike.
Untrue, said a member of the landlord’s family, who said the family kicked out Harding and Co. because they didn’t pay their rent.
“They’re behind on their rent for months,” said Theresa Russo, before hanging up.
Untrue, said Harding.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. We have not defaulted,” Harding told The Brooklyn Paper.
Whatever the truth of this landlord-tenant dispute, Harding and the Mamary brothers’ place in history is secure with Brooklyn foodies. After Patois, they opened the other Smith Street stalwarts Gowanus Yacht Club and Pacifico (try the ribs) and Sweetwater in Williamsburg.
Patois [255 Smith St., between Douglass and DeGraw streets, (718) 855-1535]. Brunch and dinner will be served on Sunday. Apres le diner, c’est fini.