A legal dispute closed the original Bagatelle, but the new location brings the brand back stronger than ever.
A shared boredom with New York nightlife initially brought two young Frenchmen together in an effort to put some buzz into their evenings. Now, more than a decade later, Aymeric Clemente and Remi Laba are partners in a thriving hospitality business, Brand Essence, and the brains behind Bagatelle, a French Mediterranean–inspired destination restaurant in the heart of the Meatpacking District.
Prior to the restaurant’s June 2012 opening, the original Bagatelle restaurant had operated nearby, but closed following a dispute with a former partner that wound its way through the courts.
“We won in court but we had to rebuild,” says Laba. “While we were waiting to resolve the situation, we opened pop-up restaurants all over the world to keep the brand alive and in the forefront.” The pop-ups typically operated from two days to two weeks.
Bagatelle, which not only caters to local crowds but also to an international clientele, was named for a French term that is synonymous with “subtle courtship or flirting with a woman,” says Laba. “There was an old saying: ‘Do the bagatelle.’”
With outposts in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, St. Barth’s island, Sao Paulo, and St. Tropez, and with another soon to open in Miami followed by Dubai and London, the Bagatelle brand is keeping the duo busy.
With its sophisticated following and contemporary, chic décor, Bagatelle often is perceived as trendy. However, the menu and food have been met with critical acclaim.
“Because we are a vibe restaurant, guests are very surprised by the quality of our food,” says Clemente. “With music starting to play around 11 p.m., it can take over the fact we are a great restaurant.”
Open for lunch and dinner with continuous service from 11 a.m., Bagatelle boasts a large bar scene and also attracts a big brunch crowd on weekends.