When NYC Reopens, Some Restaurants and Shops Won't Be

Favorite spots, like Gem Spa and Coogan's announced they wouldn't be coming back when New York reopens.

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It's been nearly three months since most restaurants, bars and and non-essential businesses had to close their doors as New York City went "on pause" to fight the coronavirus.

But as the five boroughs get ready to enter Phase 1 of reopening next week, dozens of spots - including some longstanding institutions - won't be getting back to work. Instead, they'll be closing their doors for good.

One such spot is Greenwich Village’s historic Gem Spa. Perched on prime real estate - the corner of St. Marks and Second Avenue -- the news stand has been in business for nearly a century. And it's not just any long-standing corner shop: Gem Spa is commonly thought to be the first spot in the city to whip up an Egg Cream.

Current owner Paru Patel says that things had been tough before quarantine: Gem Spa lost its lottery and cigarette licenses due to employee misconduct in 2019.

But with the loss of walk-in business that struck in early March, Patel suddenly was able to make rent, and in early May she made the decision to shut Gem Spa down for good.

“The outpouring of love since announcing our closure has been tremendous,” said Patel. “COVID-19 is just something we couldn’t overcome without a rent freeze.” 

Gotham Bar and Grill, located right below 14th street between Fifth and University, Gotham had been known for its upscale dining experience which sought to bridge the gap between fine dining and fun .

After 36 years of serving the village, Owner and former head chef Alfred Portale has decided to close its doors for good after financial complications due to the rise of COVID-19. 

Uptown, Coogan's has been the biggest casualty. The Washington Heights Irish pub closed its doors on St. Patrick's Day along with most other city bars, and announced in a letter to patrons they wouldn't be coming back on April 21.

Higher-end spots weren't immune either. The Paris Cafe - which had been a fixture at South Street Seaport for the last 147 years - also announced it was closing down.

“To all our wonderful patrons and friends I would like to extend a sincere thanks and a fond farewell from The Paris Cafe,” said Owner Pete O’Connell in an Instagram post. “Through no fault but anyone but the outbreak of the virus, we are unable to forge a way forward that makes economic sense. We had no option but to close our doors.” 

This trend has trickled down to a number of bars and restaurants across the city. 

Keith McNally is the owner of Lucky Strike -- another one of dozens of New York City restaurants, bars and other businesses that have made the difficult decision to close up shop for good over the few months. 

“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, I was unable to find a way to make Lucky Strike work financially,” said McNally. “This decision was particularly difficult since many of Lucky Strike’s wonderful staff have worked for me for over 20 years, and some of the customers have been coming since the day we opened: 31 years ago.” 

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 8 million restaurant employees have been laid off or furloughed and the industry has lost roughly $80 billion in sales as of the end of May.

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