Saint's Alp Teahouse, purportedly the first teahouse to bring bubble tea to New York City, is closing its door after service tonight on Third Avenue.
Owner Bob Chan didn't offer any reason for the closure. (Lost lease? Increased rent? Decline in business?)
Here's a note from Chan from under the "About Us" tab on the Teahouse website:
The first location opened in 1995 in Chinatown on the corner of Mott Street and Bayard Street. Back then I don't believe bubble tea was even a word in the English Dictionary. Now you can get bubble tea almost anywhere.
When foods get popular, they get commoditized. It becomes a way for many people to cash in on what's popular today. This is a double edged sword. The obvious benefit is the popularity. I am very happy that the product is getting national, even international recognition. The downside is that in many attempts to cash in, some very important aspects are taken for granted. The quality is compromised for profit margins. The experience is compromised for convenience.
This outpost of a Hong Kong-based chain opened in the East Village in 1999. They closed for a month at the beginning of the year for a renovation and menu upgrade.
East Village writer Christine Champagne told us about the closure. She had been a regular since 2002. "I come on my own a few days a week to get a break from work. It is one of those places where you can sit and think and not be bothered or you can chat with the employees if you are so inclined."
The retail strip in the base of NYU's Alumni Hall between East Ninth Street and East 10th Street is rather barren now: Four of six storefronts will sit empty. Subway was the last tenant to go. Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakery closed in July 2014. Citi Habitats moved out in June 2014.