BUSHWICK — It's the longest-running excuse to avoid the gym.
Fitness chain Crunch's Bushwick location has been saying it will debut at 785 Flushing Ave. for nearly two years, but it has yet to open its doors.
People paid for early-bird memberships as far back as spring of 2013 — and they are still waiting to hear whether or not the location will open.
Local Mike Caputo paid about $40 to sign up after receiving a card in the mail touting a $9-per-month membership fee in the fall of 2013, thinking he could start going to the gym when it opened after Thanksgiving.
But it never did.
"This isn't cute to me that they're never opening," said Caputo, who joined another gym but occasionally follows up with Crunch. "It's a really dishonest business practice. It's awful customer service."
The gym lists its hours of operation as 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, and an employee still mans the desk at the fully completed gym during that time to respond to questions.
Last June, Mario, a front-desk employee who gave only his first name, told DNAinfo New York that workers were told to tell customers the gym was not open due to a landlord or permit issue.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 people had signed up to join the gym between October 2013 and June 2014, he added.
It was unclear how many of them canceled due to the delay, though he said it was "a lot."
This month, another employee named Andrea, who also declined to give her last name, said a landlord or permit issue was still stalling the opening and that the gym would open "hopefully next month."
She said all Crunch Bushwick members are being offered free entry into the Crown Heights Crunch at 842 Lefferts Ave.
People can currently enroll in $10-per-month memberships without a sign-up fee, a special that changes each month, she said.
"All I know is that we are still signing people up," she said. "They do want this open. They spent a lot of money on it."
A spokeswoman for Crunch did not respond to repeated questions about why the gym still wasn't open. A woman who answered the phone for the landlord, Reva Holdings, declined to comment.
The Crunch Bushwick website, which touts fitness classes and hydromassage at the location, offers a $9.95-per-month deal and states it is "coming soon."
The website previously had a countdown clock that continuously changed its time to signify that it was opening soon.
"We'll be up and running in no time, ready to welcome you to club awesome," the site reads.
The Crunch Crown Heights location faced similar delays in opening due to a lack of a special city permit to open a gym in the building.
It ultimately opened last October after more than a year of signing people up.
A location listed as 747 Broadway, the same building as Crunch Bushwick, was approved for a special city permit with the Board of Standards and Appeals in February 2014, according to city records.
It was unclear if that was the permit the location had been waiting for.
Caputo said he wants answers from the company on why the location hasn't opened yet, rather than his money back.
Despite the person manning the desk, Caputo and others said they haven't gotten responses on why the opening has been delayed.
Offers to use alternative Crunch locations don't help, several people said, since they signed up specifically due to the convenient location.
For resident Christian Cox, who has also since joined another gym, checking in on the location has become a bit of a hobby.
He occasionally posts to its Facebook page or sends emails asking about the opening, hoping that the gym will "own up to what's going on."
"It’s become this bizarre urban legend," Cox said. "You think it would be so easy to get an answer. That’s what has me flabbergasted."
There's a Planet Fitness just a block away, at 777 Broadway, but it doesn't offer all the amenities Crunch does — the main reason local Becca Palmese paid about $35 for an early-bird membership in May 2013, she said.
But after five months of checking in on Crunch Bushwick, she gave up.
"It's just misleading," Palmese said. "If you're coming into the neighborhood and you want to drum up some business, this is not the way to go about it."