A New Life for Merkato 55

Merkato 55, which began life almost two years ago as the pan-African brainchild of Marcus Samuelsson, is going to be reincarnated as an Italian brasserie. Guest of a Guest learned that the team behind Bagatelle, which, like Merkato, has lately been known as the site of champagne-fueled, recession-oblivious weekend brunches, will be taking over the troubled space, which filed for bankruptcy in June. Bagatelle's Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente -- who are also behind Gansevoort 69, which occupies the old Florent space -- will be teaming up with a St. Barts restaurateur for the makeover.

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