South Slope writers, mommies and, yes, even a few coffee lovers, were crying in their lattes this week at the news that the original Tea Lounge — a neighborhood staple on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 10th Street — will close at the end of July, a victim, its owner said, of soaring rent demands.
“It’s killing us,” said co-owner Greg Wolf, who opened the popular java joint in early 2001. “The closing is completely ruining our lives.”
Wolf blamed his landlord, Georgina Tufano, for doubling the rent on his small storefront, though he declined to reveal the dollar figure.
“It’s astronomical,” said Wolf, whose other bars are on Union Street in Park Slope and on Court Street in Cobble Hill.
Tufano could not be reached for comment. Her lawyer did not return a call.
Tea Lounge fans were distressed by the news. “I am certain that this is the end of my writing career,” said author Libba Bray, who wrote the better part of her four novels — including the forthcoming mad cow disease comedy, “Going Bovine” — on the third couch from the door.
“The Tea Lounge is like ‘Cheers’ with coffee,” she added. “It is the source of my creativity and my super-foxiness.”
Susan Fox, who is not only a Park Slope parent, but the founder of the seminal Park Slope Parents Web site, said the closure would hit local moms hard.
“It’s an iconic mommy meeting place,” said Fox, a mother of two. “I blame gentrification.”
Perhaps, but if high rents are the villain here, the Tea Lounge is a victim of its own success. When it opened, property values and rents in the area below Ninth Street were lower and bodegas were more common than tony coffee joints.
“When we moved in, the neighborhood was different — everything is more expensive now,” Wolf said. “The only businesses opening on Seventh Avenue now are national chains, banks or real-estate brokers.”
“At the price our landlord wants,” Wolf added, “we would have to sell a coffee to everyone in the borough every single day.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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