Tuesday, June 11, 2019

[Updated] What is happening at Gem Spa?



Several readers were shocked this morning to see that Gem Spa, a 24/7 hub of activity on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place for years, was closed.

Steven took these photos just before 9.



Last week, we heard that Gem Spa was going to reduce its hours, closing from midnight to 7 a.m. Business has been off at the shop since April, when Gem Spa lost its license to sell lottery and tobacco products (with the exception of e-cigs) due to an employee twice selling cigarettes to an undercover underage buyer. The state suspended the store’s license for six months, which apparently also leaves them unable to apply for a license to sell beer.

The Patel family has owned the store since 1986. Mr. Patel has been in declining health, and his daughter Parul is handling the store’s management. EVG contributor Stacie Joy spoke with her outside the shop on Sunday. While she acknowledged some issues with the landlord (he wants a clean look out front, for instance), she didn't give any indication that the shop was in danger of closing. She had ideas on how to help business in the interim, such as offer an "egg cream happy hour."

Meanwhile, the Zoltar machine along with the newspapers were removed from outside the shop in late May. Parul said they don't make a lot of money on newspapers and so the margins are too slim (people also steal them all too often).

Another sign making regulars nervous: The everything-must-go notices outside. According to Parul, they're simply thinning out the back stock of hats, scarves and sunglasses ...




[Photo in April by Stacie Joy]

We'll update this post as soon as we learn more.

Updated 10:40 a.m.



Gem Spa is open, per Steven. Their new hours are 8 a.m. to midnight. And their iced coffee is only $2.

Updated:

Jeremiah Moss has a post on Gem Spa here.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to Gem Spa

33 comments:

blue glass said...

oh no
the place has been and is an anchor of stabilty for that corner.

was the "agent" that bought cigarettes really underage? did they look older? was it a set up?
"due to an employee twice selling cigarettes to an undercover underage buyer."
fine them, don' force them out of business!

are the bars that disrupt the neighborhood checked as often as gem spa?

Anonymous said...

"A clean look out front."

Says it all. Times change.

Anonymous said...

I'm going over there and buying like ten egg creams right now.

Anonymous said...

"are the bars that disrupt the neighborhood checked as often as gem spa?"

yes.

Anonymous said...

"A clean look"? Is selling newspapers too much visual "clutter" in the East Village all of a sudden? Has the landlord lost his mind? Gem Spa is one of the few REAL East Village businesses left.

Anonymous said...

@blue glass

Traditionally the bars bellow 14th st are checked all the time for underage drinking. Smart(er) college kids know to head up to midtown and behave and they'll be served.

Giovanni said...

This is really the last straw. Gem Spa is the anchor for St. Marks Place, and if its gone then it’s over. Hopefully they will reopen and we all start going there again for coffee and egg creams, but the old business of selling newspapers and magazines is long gone, the latest victim being St Marks comics.

If not, then St. Marks Place is once again officially dead. Look at what is happening on every corner from Avenue A to Astor Place:

On 3rd Avenue, the gateway to the East Village, the corner buildings are all being demolished, the first victims of the Death Star.

On 2nd Avenue, Gem Spa is apparently closed, as is the corner store on the northwest corner where various coffee shops/pizzerias, froyos and DF Mavens have all tried and failed to survive. Remember BAMN!? with the Horn & Hardart automat machines? At least that one was interesting.

On 1st Avenue, another longtime anchor Foot Gear Plus is gone, as is the never ending parade of bars at 132 1st Avenue (which was Vbar for a few years, then Colibiri, then Waiting on a Friend, now also closed).

East of 1st Ave. there has been constant turnover on the block (Yaffa Cafe, St. Dymphnas, and I still miss Stingy Lulu’s). Now Starbucks has a dark, sleepy location on the corner of Avenue A.

It never ends, and than it’s over.

Anonymous said...

hhhhhmmmmm, wonder what the landlord is doing

Anonymous said...

I don't want to see bodegas die but c'mon, if their business is selling cigs and beer...it's not like it's the place locals buy milk or sandwiches or something.

Anonymous said...

Classic landlords ripping the soul out of places. Everything is going to look like an apple store soon enough.

Gojira said...

WHEW. Thanks for the update!

Anonymous said...

Them selling cigarettes to minors is in no way the fault of the landlord as much as many of the commentators here would like to blame the landlord. Losing a Lotto/cigarette/beer license for a store like Gem Spa is a death bell unless they can somehow weather the storm for 6 months. Their only other option is to reincorporate under another name and apply for a new license but that also requires the landlord to do them a huge favor and sign a new lease.

Anonymous said...

"are the bars that disrupt the neighborhood checked as often as gem spa?"

#whataboutism is real.

Anonymous said...

re: anon, 11:37AM. The landlord has nothing to do with this. Yes it's old school but does a place that sells cigarettes & beer really add any value to our neighborhood ?

Anonymous said...

Its crazy that there is just about no place left to buy a newspaper. Don't tell me the podpeople are doing anything more than catching the latest propaganda headlines on their twit accounts.

Anonymous said...

VALUE TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD ????? IT IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER... WHAT VALUE HAVE YOU BROUGHT ?????? Bubble tea, noodles and WHAT ???

Anonymous said...

Just walked by there they have a sign up “everything must go”. Agree with 5:18 bubble tea an ramen places have taken over.

Anonymous said...

This sucks! I can’t help but think that being profiled on NY1 has something to do with the targeting of this store. I cringed when I saw that profile because this seems like the kind of place that thrives outside the spotlight. Leave them alone!.

EV Grieve said...

Roger Clark's NY1 feature was on May 10. The store was busted about a month before that.

Anonymous said...

It’s time to leave.

cindy + pete said...

Ok maybe we won’t miss gem spa THAT much but who won’t miss zoltar? Also when I asked today and said “are you guys renovating” the guy answered yes. But I guess that was just to appease me for a bit

Anonymous said...

I am grieving. Gem Spa is just on of those "only in New York" oddities that make living here feel a lot cooler.

Anonymous said...

But what about Zoltar ?

Gojira said...

@cindy + Pete - maybe YOU "won't miss Gem Spa that much", but I can assure you that many of us who have lived in the neighborhood for decades will. Because if it goes out, what will go in, think you?

Anonymous said...

Gem Spa is cool. St Marks will never be the same if they go. I remember when they had arcade machines back in the 90s. St Marks is slowly becoming gentrified parts of it feel like Hong Kong.

Anonymous said...

i can totally see Gem spa getting set up as predatory landlords are all over in our neighborhood. it's a travesty that so many lame places open, and other places have tons of underage drinkers (brunch anyone) and this neighborhood institution is taking heat. it's because there building a hideous tower on the corner of st. marks place, and trying to make the whole block lame and unlivable. keep the offices in the financial district. this is a residential neighborhood, and we support our neighbors.

Rob said...

St. Mark's Comics. Trash & Vaudeville. Sounds. Dojo. Boy Bar/Coney Island High. The list is too long. St. Mark's died long ago. All that's left is an empty shell and a rotting corpse. Sleazy and John of Coil said it best, "Everything changes and everything dies. And god is a sadist. And that he knows it."

Jared the NYC Tour Guide said...

I like the seltzer and egg creams, and showing people pictures of the New York Dolls outside.

It is a family owned business, and one of a kind, with good prices.

I love TELLING people about egg creams, and encouraging their consumption.

If they close, Ray's is the only egg cream in the old Jewish LES.

Anonymous said...

Gem Spa... no papers, no magazines, no smokes, no Zoltar, no vibe... DEAD! Searched for local basics please suggest a Stacy Joy visit/story to Ink on Avenue A & 5th Street. It feels real again!

Anonymous said...

So many businesses going under, with the resulting vacant store fronts. Gem Spa is just hanging on. Just wait until congestion pricing tax kicks in, and things'll get even worse. Are the elected's pushing us into a 70s and 80s style recession?

Honoria said...

I drank at that bar when it was the St Mark's Bar, sigh. . . .

Anonymous said...

I lived on St. Mark’s btw 2/3 in ’81. The ONLY other place that remains is Khyber Pass, which I still love.

Anonymous said...

What are the remaining pre-1990 businesses left on St.Mark's Place besides Gem Spa and Ray's Pizza?