When Remi Laba (left) and Aymeric Clemente founded Bagatelle three years ago, they expected it to be successful. After all, as promoters, the duo helped Pink Elephant, Marquee, and Lotus become staples of New York nightlife, transforming each into European-style spots of sophisticated revelry. What they didn’t expect was that their upscale French bistro in the Meatpacking District would end up pioneering an entirely new category of hospitality.
“The idea was to create a restaurant with a truly Mediterranean feel, identifying with the South of France in both the food and the joie de vivre,” says Laba. This translated into brunch, with guests sipping rosé and picking at plates of tuna tartare. “We added the DJ element to create a bit more of a party, and suddenly it grew into a full-on day of play and fun.” Thus, “daylife” was born, taking elements of nightlife – music, dancing, “champagne superman” – and sticking them where the sun does, in fact, shine. The effect was felt on Bagatelle’s bustling evening business, which found diners hanging around after their meals and ordering cocktails instead of heading off to nightclubs. “Bagatelle was a game changer,” Clemente says. Last winter, however, a dispute with their business partners left them locked out of their now-legendary restaurant. They reached a settlement and are now taking the Bagatelle name and concept to a new location at One Little West 12th Street this fall, as well as opening restaurants in the Hamptons and Los Angeles. “The brand has momentum, so we’ve got to move fast,” Laba says. “The opportunities are ours to seize.”
[Photo by Steven B Ekerovich]