Turns out that the Winter of Closings (free thinkpiece right there) will extend from out of Williamsburg into Park Slope, as the Tea Lounge suddenly announced with a message on Facebook they would be closing on December 14. No reason for the closure was given, and in a call last night to the coffee shop, a barista told us that even the employees had no idea the Tea Lounge was closing until they got to work that day. A request for comment from the Tea Lounge’s owner hasn’t been returned as of now.
The Park Slope institution (and former Brokelyn HQ) had spent 14 years in the neighborhood and had even expanded to a franchise in Kuwait. The day after the announcement, the shop was still doing brisk business, with a healthy crowd scattered around working, watching children and otherwise wasting time on the internet, buying coffee and food to a Beyonce/Nicki Minaj/Usher soundtrack.
“It’s kind of sad,” Park Slope resident and occasional visitor Jess told us as she and her friend Lola typed away on laptops, describing the Tea Lounge as “something different.” They admitted though, that they spent more time at the nearby Hungry Ghost.
Other coffee drinkers called themselves bigger fans of the Tea Lounge. “It’s my favorite coffee shop in the neighborhood,” said Will Adler, a Ph. D student at NYU who lives in Park Slope. “This place has furniture and tons of couches. It’s big and roomy and has an inviting atmosphere, I just love it.” He said he’d be trying out Gorilla Coffee and Hungry Ghost as replacement coffee shops.
The sprawling footprint of the Tea Lounge was also called a plus by Elisa Altofer and Melissa Corto, who said that the fact that there was always somewhere to sit was what drew them regularly to the coffee shop for the past two months. “They could have turned it into a co-working space and charged like $10 a day,” Altofer said ruefully before saying that she wouldn’t be replacing Tea Lounge with a new coffee shop and would be finding a co-working space instead.
Of course, beyond losing a neighborhood staple, there are plenty of people losing jobs. Cari Sietstra, who said she stopped in once or twice a month after dropping her son off at pre-school, expressed sympathy for the employees of the coffee shop, who were as ambushed by the closure as regular customers. “I feel bad for them, with the closing happening right around the holidays. It makes for a tough season.”
One barista, Malaika took it in stride though. “It’s just a part of life, you have to roll with the punches,” she said before going back to taking orders.