Therapy, Hell’s Kitchen Mainstay, Likely Closed for Good

After temporarily closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is “highly unlikely” Therapy will ever open again.
Facebook/ TherapyNYC

There may never be a last call at Therapy.

The popular bar in Hell’s Kitchen, already closed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, will likely be forced to shutter for good.

“It’s with tears in our eyes that we have to admit it is highly unlikely that Therapy will ever reopen,” Therapy noted in a Facebook post on July 19. “Every one of YOU who has ever worked here, performed here, partied here… We love you. And though we cannot be together today, always know you are Therapy’s family.”

The bar first closed in mid-March when it noted in a March 15 Facebook post that the establishment would be shuttered “until further notice.”

But now, months into a pandemic that continues to take a health and economic toll, the bar appears to have been unable to weather the storm.

Co-owner Tom Johnson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on August 3, but he told Eater in July that the owners failed to reach an agreement with the landlord at 348 West 52nd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and he ultimately turned in his keys in April.

Johnson stressed that tourists are necessary for bars like Therapy to thrive, and he opted against pursuing the outdoor dining route because he estimated that the bar would have only recouped 30 to 40 percent of its usual business.

The two-story bar has been known for its ties to “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” often hosting contestants, but it was also a space for queer New Yorkers to simply grab drinks and socialize. More than 80 comments were posted in response to the bar’s Facebook post, with many individuals asking if it is too late to launch a GoFundMe page to raise rescue money.

Others reminisced about their years visiting or working at the bar, which first opened in 2003. Some commenters were former staff members, while others were everyday New Yorkers who enjoyed the bar.

In one comment, Jennifer Lameo said she was the only woman on the “original crew” that worked at the bar when it first opened.

“I’ve worked with and waited on some of the amazing people,” Lameo wrote. “We were a FAMILY and I love each and every person who walked through those doors. I love you, Therapy.”

International travelers also expressed disappointment in the wake of the bar’s announcement. Singapore resident Martin Perez said he visited the bar whenever he visited the Big Apple.

“Always had a great time and met a lot of amazing people,” he wrote. “Sad.”

It was a rocky year for the bar after it was already forced to close temporarily during Pride Month in 2019 — when unprecedented numbers of queer folks descended on the city for Stonewall 50/ WorldPride — while an unstable neighboring building was being demolished.

Therapy is among many local queer bars facing hardship during the pandemic. Alibi Lounge, a Black-owned gay bar in Harlem, was just starting to regain its footing with an outdoor dining option when it was burglarized late last month. Henrietta Hudson, a lesbian bar in the West Village, has remained closed after owner Lisa Cannistraci said she did not want to reopen until she can do so at 100 percent capacity. Both of those bars, however, have benefitted from generous GoFundMe fundraisers.

Whether Therapy will turn to GoFundMe is not yet clear, but Johnson seems open to such an idea.

“It’s great if people want to come together and invest in Therapy at some point,” Johnson told Eater. “I want nothing more than for all of this to go away, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

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