My Favorite French Restaurant Is Closing!

Sep 27

La Petite Auberge, The Final Days

They can’t do this to me!

Mon dieu
! They are doing this to me.PetiteExterior

La Petite Auberge, my very favorite French restaurant in Manhattan, is going to close on
October 8.

I don’t think I can deal with this.

How do I love this place? Let me count the ways: it’s small, popular but not trendy, has consistently good classic French cuisine, a great prix fixe menu so we could afford to go whenever we wanted, the kind of bread they will serve in heaven should I ever get there, two pleasant owners who know me, a terrific wait staff that doesn’t change every ten minutes (or ten years), and is a nice walk from our apartment.

LePetiteAubergeFrontRmBut all good things must end. I guess. And we’ll be there on October 8, crying over our martinis with the rest of the regulars.

I know about selling a business: I did it myself. And I can well understand why after 35 years the owners Marcel and Raymond would want a rest (no pun intended) from the restaurant business. How hard does that job have to be? As they say in Paris, Oy vey.

And yet.

Don’t you just hate it when they do that?
And it’s not just restaurants, either . . .


All The Stores You Love Are Closing!

Out of the blue they sell the family owned pharmacy you’ve been going to for years. The one where they’d give you a pill or two until you got the Rx you forgot to renew.

Paparazzi, the little gift store where you could get some booties for your neighbor’s new baby or a little something for yourself when you needed a little something for yourself, is boarded up.

Brunos Ravioli! Gone overnight! Arrivederci, pasta.

The stationery store down the block where you got everything from envelopes to storage boxes to business cards is, also, no more.

And yes, yes, I know there’s Staples for the envelopes, department stores for the baby gifts, and enough CVSes and Duane Reades to fill the pharmacy needs of the entire planet for generations to come — and yes, Virginia, there are other restaurants in Manhattan. Just a few.

But they’re not MY drug store, MY stationery store, MY pharmacy, MY restaurant.

They don’t know me and my little idiosyncrasies. Forget forgetting the presecription, everybody does that. But I once filled an Rx for a controlled substance, then threw the bottle of pills out with the paper bag they came in. I was going on a trip. I needed that medicine.  I couldn’t get the doctor in time. The pharmacist gave me a new bottle, which was probably illegal, but put me forever in his debt.  I would have been their customer until the end of time — except that they’re out of business.

New York, they say, is just a bunch of little neighborhoods, and I like having a nabe. Call me old fashioned, but it’s nice that the guy at the dry cleaners knows me from Eve, and the manager of the diner gives me a booth even when I come in alone. One of the great things about the city is that you can be anonymous when you want to, but greeted with warmth when you need that.

Ray_PetiteWe needed that this past year, and got it at La Petite Auberge. True, the martinis, about to be mixed here by Raymond, always gave the evening that lovely alcoholic haze we craved so much during a year when my elderly mother had a bad accident and was in a nursing home for months, and my father died 8 months later, leaving her a widow after 76 years of marriage.

But any restaurant can serve up drinks.

La Petite Auberge was our sanctuary.

It gave us a safe haven on Saturday night, after a long week of trying to keep things together and not falling into a funk too deep to dig out of. It was a place where maybe not everybody — but some people —knew our names. Or at least our faces, and responded to them with big smiles. Especially Marcel, Agnieszka, Gabriela, Albert, and Carlos. See! I know their names, too. It makes things seem brighter when people like seeing your face again. And vice versa.

Well, I got over the pharmacy closing and even found another small one closer by, a gift shop opened not far from here and with customers like me should stay open for a while, I’ll stock up on raviolis at that great shop in Grand Central, and I’ll have to learn to make my business cards on line. Although, come to think of it, I don’t even have a business. Whatever.

Bread_PetiteIn the fullness of time, I’ll even find another nice neighborhood restaurant where they’ll learn to make our martinis just the way we like them: straight up, made with Belvedere, stirred not shaken, extra olives.


But I’ll sure miss La Petite Auberge.
Au revoir, mes amis.

And before I get too misty eyed about it all, do you think I could get the recipe for the mushroom soup? And the name of your bakery . . .

One comment

  1. Ellen Kolegar /

    This happens a lot with small restaurants. the chef owner gets old or tired and no one can take his place. I’ve seen this with a couple of my favorite French restaurants in Chicago suburbs and it leaves you feeling bereft.

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