The Well made a splash when it opened in the fall of 2019 as a private club near Union Square where you could book yoga classes, lunar gong baths, sessions with A-Rod’s sports doctor or Gwyneth Paltrow’s nutritionist followed by a glass of wine at the club restaurant.
Its three founders, Kane Sarhan, Rebecca Parekh and Sarrah Hallock, had raised $18 million from investors, including billionaire real estate mogul Richard LeFrak and hotelier Barry Sternlicht.
Six months later, in March 2020 they were just beginning to “hit their stride,” Sarhan tells Side Dish, when the pandemic hit.
The Well closed in early March, just before all non-essential businesses were ordered under lockdown. “We thought it would be for two weeks,” Parekh said.
They didn’t reopen until April 8, 2021.
“It was scary, and painful, to close, but it made us focus quickly on who we are and what we want to be,” Sarhan said.
The Well is no longer a private club. Guests are met at reception with temperature checks and hand sanitizer. Masks are required.
The Well, like many other businesses, has been forced to adapt to myriad unexpected challenges, like the fact that 90 percent of the city’s workforce continues to work from home, including by expanding its online offerings to guided meditation and teleheath conferences.
It’s reopening at a time when it’s unclear how fast folks will return to group gong baths and communal yoga, especially when they are required to wear masks and stay six feet apart.
While the Well had five to seven classes a day for up to 30 people a class pre-pandemic, they are now offering three to four classes a day for up to 13 people max, though they plan to “ramp up” the number of classes by summer, a spokesperson said.
There are other hopeful signs. While its restaurant, The Well Kitchen & Table, is fairly quiet during the week, it’s full on weekends — even boasting diners like fashion designer Nanette Lepore.
The founders also raised an additional $12 million during lockdown, and expanded their online presence with their own line of vitamins, supplements, oils, candles, a cleanse, hand sanitizers, masks and more.
The good news is that the health and wellness industry appears to be booming. Parekh cites multiple hotels and even universities that have approached the company to partner and consult on holistic health and wellness projects.
“There was so much loneliness during the pandemic. Suicides were up. We’ve all gone through something traumatic,” Sarhan added.