A poet once wrote that only the good die young. Never has that statement rung truer across the Eastern seaboard than five days ago when the strip mall tanning salon owned and operated by Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino was shutdown by its landlord. Let us now remember the greatest business ever owned by a reality show celebrity in the history of Middletown Plaza.
The tanning salon opened with grand fanfare last March. NJ.com sent reporter Rob Spahr to cover the ribbon cutting, and his report describes exactly the scene you imagine either the third or fourth most famous member of Jersey Shore would demand for the grand reveal of his small business franchise.
A red carpet stretched between the UPS Store and the Let's YO! yogurt shop in the Middletown Plaza on Route 35 on Saturday afternoon.
As a camera crew began filming the tanning salon in between those two businesses, a small crowd – and the cars that had to detour around it – wondered aloud what was causing the stir.
But when a white Lamborghini with a Florida license plate that read "GTL" rolled up and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino popped out of the door, that speculation shifted to excitement.
Sailing was smooth for a whole three months before it became clear that perhaps The Situation was not the right person to shepherd Boca Tanning Club's expansion into the fertile New Jersey market. In early June, employees of the tanning salon filed a police report after their paychecks bounced. Eight days later, The Situation and his brother were arrested for fighting each other inside their Boca Tanning Salon.
A week after that, I took a visit to The Situation's strip mall tanning salon on a drizzly Thursday afternoon. Squeezed in between a UPS store and a yogurt shop, the store was empty except for an employee named Melissa and a male friend of her's wearing a black tank top. The walls of the salon were painted with murals depicting scenes from the rainforests of South America and the plains of Africa. The equipment was gleaming and well cared for, and I spent an enjoyable dozen minutes burning my skin and listening to EDM inside a hard, plastic clamshell.
Earlier in the day, I had submitted four versions of my right index fingerprint—hopefully that information is being handled with care.
I left the salon feeling like The Situation had found himself a quality little business that would sustain itself even after the last residue of his celebrity finally wore off. Here is what I wrote at the time:
I walked out of the empty store feeling happy for The Situation. He owns a pretty solid business, at least for those of us not on the receiving end of his bad checks. As I stepped into the rain, I realized I would never again judge a strip mall tanning salon by its violent owners and public legal troubles.
That case, as far as I can tell, remains unresolved, but it is, at the very least, the second most important legal proceeding in The Situation's life: in September he was indicted by the federal government on charges of tax evasion.
The round of legal Jägerbombs kept coming. By the end of the year, the landlord who owns the space in the strip mall that houses The Situation's tanning salon had taken him to court over past due rent. Sorrentino agreed to fork over $32,000 in installments of $5,500, but skipped the first payment, which was due January 15. A week ago, the superior court of Monmouth County authorized the landlord to takeover the space.
I hope the oil painting of a zebra that hung in my tanning room is still being prominently displayed somehow, somewhere, in New Jersey.
If The Situation's strip mall tanning salon hasn't already been permanently erased from this earth, it will be soon. I have no doubt that The Situation will fail miraculously and joyously at what ever business endeavor he chooses next.
Please join me in squeezing out a tube of bronzer.
[image via Getty]