A few weeks ago, while wandering around the east side of midtown, I found myself for the first time in Gene's Coffee Shop on 60th Street between Park and Madison. One of those overlooked treasures of the vanishing city, Gene's felt like a real find. An endangered species. A good old New York City coffee shop. Excited to be there, I thought: Now I have a place to eat in this neighborhood.
Well, call me a jinx.
photo via Yelp
Reader MM writes in: "On Thursday, there was a sign that they were closed for the day because of a gas cut-off. This seemed plausible, there's a huge building going up directly across the street. Today there was an eviction notice in the door."
Is this yet another case of death by gas cut-off? It almost happened to the B&H Dairy. It did happen to The Stage restaurant in the East Village, La Taza de Oro in Chelsea, Mariella's Pizza in Gramercy, and possibly several other small and older restaurants.
Businesses struggle without gas, lose money, and fold. Or the landlords take advantage of stricter gas codes, tightened since the Second Avenue explosion, and use them to evict. We don't know if that's the case here, but it's a growing problem in the city that no one in the mainstream media is reporting on -- and it is killing local businesses.
For some time, Gene's has been buried under scaffolding, which may have been a contributing factor to the closing.
Writes MM: "I work in this neighborhood, a lot of the diners have been dispossessed, usually because their buildings are knocked down. In this case, Gene's was suffering a little from the construction, but I figured they'd do okay when the new building went up. You could order and have things delivered in less than 10 minutes. The restaurant was always sparkling clean, with friendly staff of Greek and Spanish guys, dishing out food for people who worked nearby and for tourists. Eviction papers indicate the lease goes back to 1983, though the restaurant may be older."
Unless there's hope for Gene's, another authentic New York coffee shop vanishes--in a city where we are losing them by the day.