Parul Patel, who had been running the store that her father Ray owned since 1986, made a gallant effort to save the iconic corner shop that dates to the 1920s. However, whatever financial progress she was able to make was not enough to overcome a global pandemic.
Late last year, Patel auctioned off the Gem Spa's sign, rolldown gate and other miscellanea.
At The New Yorker this week, Michael Schulman tracked down the owners of these Gem Spa relics.
Jason Sheehy nabbed one of the big yellow storefront signs (seventy-five hundred dollars), plus a milkshake machine (three-fifty). Sheehy lives on a grain farm in Ohio, but "the East Village has always just been my jive," he said. Both items will live in his nineteenth-century farmhouse, part of which he has turned into an Irish pub, furnished with a bar and stools from O’Lunney's Times Square Pub, another pandemic casualty.Diana Goldfeder Stewart, a graphic artist in San Francisco, bought an egg-cream sign for her kitchen (three thousand dollars). Her family operated the store from the twenties through the fifties, when it was called Goldfeder's. She grew up hearing stories about her great-grandfather Nathan's chocolate-sauce recipe. ("He served what was called Goldfeder's Famous Egg Cream.") Like a lot of Gem Spa fans, she was anxious about what will replace it. "That corner — it's a magical corner for so many people," she said. "It can't be just nothing there."
As this photo from yesterday shows, nothing is here for now. The storefront is on the rental market.