Metro, News

Thayer Street businesses shutter over summer

Local establishments Tealuxe, The Threading Place, Denali shut doors, Chase opens

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 6, 2019

Over the summer, Thayer Street transformed. Tealuxe, a tea bar beloved by students, closed its doors for the final time May 24.

Students returned from summer break to a Thayer Street much different from the one they left in May: Tealuxe, The Threading Place, Denali and GNC Live Well all shuttered and Chase Bank opened its doors while class was out of session.

Of all the changes, Tealuxe’s closure hit many students the hardest. The tea shop had provided warm drinks and a respite from winter chill for over a decade, and it closed without warning May 24. Harold Fowler, a former Tealuxe employee, said that the Providence location was forced to close after it lost the support of its sister tea shop in Cambridge, which shut its doors December 2018 due to a rent increase.

“There was no way (Tealuxe on Thayer) was going to make ends meet,” Fowler said, citing the “very, very dead” summers on College Hill.

Maura Driscoll ’22, who frequented Tealuxe, was disappointed by the closure. “I was really sad about it. I actually thought it wasn’t true,” Driscoll said. “I always used to go there with my sister when it was cold outside. It provided a nice alternative to Starbucks.”

Tealuxe management did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Four other cafes, all chains, remain open on Thayer — Starbucks, two Blue State Coffee locations and Shiru Cafe, which recently raised its prices.

Stores on Thayer have struggled to stay in business despite the constant flow of student foot traffic the street sees each day. At least one restaurant has closed each year since 2016, and 2018 saw the end of restaurant Paragon Viva’s 23-year run.

Massachusetts beauty company The Threading Place also closed over the summer. The company could not be reached for comment.

Ainsley Clapp ’22, who threads her eyebrows monthly, said she was “pretty sad” about the closure.

While both Tealuxe and The Threading Place lasted on Thayer Street for a number of years, outdoor clothing store Denali closed after less than a year in the area. The company’s six other locations in Connecticut and Rhode Island have also closed recently, SNews reported. Denali could not be reached for comment.

Nutrition supplement vendor GNC Live Well moved from Thayer to Providence Place in mid-July.

Some of the closed venues, like Tealuxe, have not yet been replaced. But College Hill saw new businesses open Thayer branches even as four shops disappeared. Most recently, Chase Bank, built on the former Paragon Viva restaurant property, started operating this summer as part of the bank’s expansion into the Greater Boston Area, The Herald previously reported. The Thayer branch opened August 1.

Some local activists have challenged Chase Bank’s new presence on Thayer for its funding of fossil fuel companies. In response to the opening, Climate Action Rhode Island led multiple protests in front of the building, calling for community members to boycott the bank. At a protest Thursday, the group filmed a member holding a small dog and cutting a Chase card in half outside the bank as part of a social media campaign.

Brian Wilder, a Cranston resident and Climate Action RI member, attended the protest yesterday. “When they see their brand getting recognized for the bad brand it is, we think they’ll change direction with their lending practices,” Wilder said.

Vice President of Northeast Regional Communications for JPMorgan Chase Carolyn Evert responded to the protests in an email to The Herald. “JPMorgan Chase has a long history of advancing environmentally sustainable solutions for clients and its own operations. … We firmly believe that balancing environmental and social issues with financial considerations is fundamental to sound risk management.”

Chase will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening Sept. 18. Climate Action RI plans to hold at least one more protest.