Payard's closing: As seen by a regular

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The metal gates came down for the last time at Upper East Side staple Payard Ptisserie earlier this week. The Feed caught up with diner Elizabeth Cirone-Segal—who has been warming a barstool at Payard twice a day for ten years—to see what the regulars make of the loss.

Elizabeth Cirone-Segal at Payard
Elizabeth Cirone-Segal at Payard

When did you first hear rumblings that Payard would be shutting down?
I heard mild rumblings about two months ago that Payard was going to close that location. But like all things, if you do not think about them hopefully they will not happen. I hoped that by some magic they would resolve the issues or transfer to another location immediately, and no one's life would be disturbed.

When we first met, you talked about a community of regulars that sit at the bar. What was the party line when the news hit?
The party line was of utter confusion, shock, bewilderment and hurt that something so important could be taken away. We could not believe that a landlord in these economic times could destroy the lives of so many hardworking people. The phone calls came from all over the world; I have a close friend from Geneva who every time he visited NYC would come for breakfast, because there is no other place in New York that has the croissants and atmosphere that Payard provided. He felt as though it was his neighborhood place.

One of my favorite details that I took away from our conversation is the thank-you notes you would dispatch to the kitchen after a great meal. What did your last note say?
My last note was not very different than the others. It just thanked Philippe [Bertineau, the chef] for excellence as always. It will not be my last note because I know that Payard will be here again. It has to be because so many depend upon him: customers, workers and tourists. France gave us the Statue of Liberty as well as Francois Payard. How can that be taken away from the many people who come to see NYC and those of us who live here?

Last meal at Payard: Did Francoise make you sardines Elizabeth—the tribute dish he created for you?
No, there were no sardines on Saturday or Sunday, but they were there on Friday

In his official statement, Payard suggests that he plans to reopen the patisserie in a new location. Do you have the inside word?
I have no idea where Francois and Philippe will be but wherever they go, I—and so many others—will be sure to follow. I can assure you I will not have another croissant until Payard reopens.

You were a once-or-twice-a-day regular, so this will mean a big change in your daily habits. Where to now?
I guess I will eat more at home.

Related: The Regular: Payard Ptisserie

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