A Gelato for the Road
Gelateria Gemelli, an East Sixth Street gelato shop known for its creative flavors like Fernet stracciatella and Vietnamese coffee, announced its upcoming closure in a September 28 Instagram post.
“Y’all, it’s been a long road,” owner Andrew Sabola wrote. “8 years of negronis, spritzes, teaching people how to say ‘stracciatella,’ first dates that turned into marriages, pop ups, cones on cones on cones, birthday parties, Fernet shots, laughter, and tears.”
Sabola attributes the closure to the COVID-19 pandemic, which slashed the customer base. Some loyal supporters kept the business going, but it never returned to its pre-pandemic sales. The gelateria will keep the lights on until November 1, giving the business plenty of time to say goodbye to fans and get some last cones out there.
The shop opened in 2015, after Sabola returned from a trip to Bologna with a friend — both Gemini — learning from gelato masters and getting accustomed to finishing off dessert with aperitivi like negroni. Living up to this one-two punch, the gelato shop served coffee and old fashioned cocktails. It had a broad selection of amaro sorted by provenance.
Sabola has always been outspoken, and has made news in the past talking about social issues. In 2015, he told L Style G Style that in building the shop, he shrugged off the notion of gendered bathrooms with trans customers in mind. In 2020, he told Eater that his glass door, broken in protests against police brutality, did not matter compared to the sociopolitical issue at hand.
The business stayed closed a little longer than necessary in May of 2020 after Texas businesses started opening up again, to protect its staff. It also made CultureMap’s 2021 list of eateries that were continuing to require masks after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that mandates would be lifted.
On the tail end of the pandemic, trends in closures and openings are hard to predict. Some businesses have gone so far through the rollercoaster of losing and gaining business that they have returned after seemingly permanent closures. Second Bar + Kitchen, G’Raj Mahal, and Ski Shores Cafe have all performed this very contemporary song and dance since June of 2022.
“From the bottom of my cold, gay heart: thank you for making Gemelli your own,” wrote Sabola. “I wanted to build something beautiful and put it out into the world and hoped that y’all would love it. You did.”