Parlor – an experimental, alcohol-free space that opened its doors to the town of New Paltz in March 2020 to sell rare books and records, host events and encourage musicians and artists to collaborate – has officially announced that they are shutting down operations at their 8 Chestnut St location.
They first announced that they were expecting to close on their Instagram page, @parlornewpaltz via a post that was made on Jan. 20. It read, “PARLOR Ain’t done yet, but we are not open now.” Six days later, another post was made that read “Please Keep Parlor Safe: Emergency & Uncertainty” with a link to a GoFundMe page set up by Parlor’s owners, Ashlee Starr and Kevin Kelly.
“We have been successfully starved out,” their GoFundMe page read. “While there have been many challenges for us over the past three years, none of it has felt totally insurmountable. While we can’t say that we ever thrived in the monetary sense, we can safely say that we thrived in a creative and spiritual sense.”
“Unfortunately, one obstacle we have done our best to overcome has become officially insurmountable. Our timeline for exiting with our property is completely unknown unfortunately. Conflicting information from the courts has left us confused and fearful that our situation is much more urgent than we realize (possibly just a few days).”
Starr and Kelly have been facing financial struggles since they first opened almost three years ago. Just a few days after they were given permission to begin operations, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all businesses to shut down due to COVID-19. Since their business model was curated for in-person experiences and they hadn’t been able to build up a solid foundation of customers, Starr and Kelly had to wait over a year before they were able to open again. Parlor also did not receive the COVID stimulus. Given all of these circumstances, they quickly began having problems with their rent.
“We came here with enough money to prudently expect to be able to withstand maybe six to eight months making very little money,” said Kelly. “Then when we reopened, we paid rent when we could but we were always a bit behind. The landlord also did a number of things that were intended or done without telling us in advance that could seem intended to be certainly negligent to starve us out or make us want to leave on our own accord.”
He offered an example, “For instance, he started digging up the driveway with an excavator because he was having some sort of drainage issue with the restaurant. The next thing we know, we had water well up on the floor and destroy a significant number of our books.”
Jes-Lyn Enterprises is the company that owns Parlor, as well as the lot in front of Parlor, Bacchus Restaurant Brewery and Billiards and the apartment buildings at 10 Chestnut St. The company began construction to turn the aforementioned lot into a parking lot on Wednesday, Nov. 24 2021. From then until December of 2022, Jes-Lyn also filed to evict Starr and Kelly as tenants of the 8 S. Chestnut location, but were denied both times.
In January 2023, Jes-Lyn filed for eviction to the Ulster County Courthouse for a third time, and was finally granted a court-order. However, Kelly claims that the courthouse mailed the eviction notice to the wrong address. He was unaware about the 14-day timeframe to leave the property that expired on Saturday, Jan. 21.
“They mailed it to an address that I just have never used because it’s never been secure. So I didn’t get that mail,” said Kelly. “So I had not been told until the sheriff came, I could not respond and ask the court for more time or do anything. So immediately upon the sheriff thing I filed an order to show cause to the judge. I’m just very disappointed with the way this town and just the New York State courts in general handle this kind of thing.”
The court denied their appeal. Kelly could not afford a reputable lawyer to be able to handle his case. They will be officially leaving the premises early next week.
Kelly and Starr are now left with the large cost of having to pay to box up all of their delicate stock and transport it to a new location. After months of struggling to bring in sources of revenue, this is a huge burden on their financial status. They have yet to secure a new, permanent location to continue on their mission of creating a space that promotes intellectual conversations, musical developments and artistic expression — but they will be temporarily staying at a location in Poughkeepsie. Kelly hopes to find a permanent location in Hyde Park or Plattsburgh.
So far, they have only raised $1,180 of their targeted $5,000 goal. These generous donations have been able to help pay for the cost of the U-Haul, which had “surpassed even our most conservative estimate (over $1k),” according to a post made on Parlor’s Instagram on Feb. 12. They will be hosting their final show on Saturday, Feb. 18.