Tea & Sympathy needs cash TLC amid rising costs

Nicky Perry’s trio of English-themed food stores on Greenwich Ave. are being hard hit by property taxes, high rent and fees. Photo by Gabe Herman

BY GABE HERMAN | There has been an outpouring of support for local British restaurant Tea & Sympathy since its founder Nicky Perry started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help pay its rising taxes, fees and rent.

The fundraising page was started on Nov. 14. The funds will go to support the shop, at 108 Greenwich Ave., which opened in 1990, along with the two neighboring stores, the grocery shop Carry On Tea & Sympathy, which opened in 1994, and A Salt and Battery, a fish-and-chips spot that Perry launched in 1999.

After three weeks, the page has raised more than $37,000 of its $100,000 goal, from 588 donors.

The page also features many supportive comments, such as, “My daughter and I have enjoyed delicious tea, food and together time at this special place. We want it to continue!”

Another person wrote, “I’ve been going to T&S since they first opened and would hate to see them close. They are a neighborhood institution.”

“I can’t read the comments, it makes me cry,” Perry told The Villager. She said the amount of local support has been overwhelming, including people constantly coming up to her on the street and some offering to work in her shops for free.

“It touches my heart,” she said.

“This isn’t really about me,” Perry added. “This is about the city and what is going on here.”

She said rents have skyrocketed, and now total $28,000 for the three businesses. Real estate taxes keep being raised every year, and tenants like her have to pay 10 percent of every tax increase.

Perry noted that she is fortunate to have a good landlord.

“My rent is still high,” she said, “but it’s not nearly as high as they could get from somebody else, because I’ve cultivated a very good, respectful relationship.”

Perry noted her landlord said that if she paid the last two years in real estate taxes, then he would give next year’s tax for free.

“So I am a lucky person because I have a landlord that does actually give a damn,” she said.

The money raised online will be able to pay off the real estate taxes, according to Perry, “which will give me a breather. And then I will see where I am.”

Of the bigger picture, Perry said, “What is happening in the Village? Everything is shutting down and it’s happening fast.”

She noted that local Tex-Mex bar/restaurant Tortilla Flats closed after 35 years, and that she heard new prospective tenants were being shown the space on the last day while the Flats operators were still packing up.

Molly Carew, manager of the Tea & Sympathy shops, said she is hopeful that the City Council will pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. And Perry noted there are good politicians on their side, including Council Speaker Corey Johnson and state Senator Brad Hoylman.

“You can’t have a city that’s just for the rich,” Perry said. “Bloomberg did this.”

She added that Mayor Bill de Blasio has continued the bad system, and that before getting elected, he told her in person that the S.B.J.S.A. was not going to happen.

Carew said there needs to be an understanding of the role that local shops play in the Village.

“The reason people want to have a business in this area and visit this area is for places like this that have been here such a long time,” she said.

Perry said she won’t be leaving without a fight. “I’ll chain myself to the railings if I have to. All I want to do is pay my bills. I don’t care about money, because I believe money comes second. But I have to be able to survive.”

The Tea & Sympathy GoFundMe page is at www.gofundme.com/tea-amp-sympathy-need-your-sympathy .

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