Fans of the historic Greenwich Village speakeasy Chumley’s have been anxiously awaiting its return following a wall collapse in 2007. Reconstructing the facade took about five years. Its reopening was once predicted to be in 2016 and it appears Chumley’s is on its last barrier return, needing a liquor license approval from Manhattan Community Board 2. Anyone who has attended a meeting of Community Board 2 will understand the challenge – meetings can go upwards of five hours, and the battles are often over liquor licenses for the neighborhoods that include Greenwich Village, Soho, and Chinatown. The residents here simply don’t want more noise. With the upcoming vote, New York resident Monroe Smith has started a petition on Change.org: “Last Call to Save Chumley’s at 86 Bedford Street.” Signatures are being collected to show support for its return.
Besides our fond memories of being in the cozy Chumley’s space or in the hidden courtyard known as Pamelas Court, we also want to mention the history here. The building has served many functions, first as a blacksmithery and later as a stop on the Underground Railroad before the Civil War, and a place for leftist radicals later.
Erroniously referred to by Simone de Beauvoir as Chumby’s, Chumley’s, has been around since 1922. A host of illustrious patrons have graced the tables at Chumley’s including: F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, E.E. Cummings, and Willa Cather.
As Smith writes, Chumley’s, “the last beating heart of Bohemia, has been closed nearly nine years. A rag-tag group of locals, retired Firemen, and aging restaurant workers have thrown thousands of hours of work, millions of dollars in cash and countless prayers at the the wheels of Justice, Reason and New York City’s many mantled Bureaucracy keeping alive the dream of Chumley’s reopening.”
Currently there are nearly 540 signatures, add yours here: Last Call to Save Chumley’s at 86 Bedford Street
Chumley’s, if re-opened would be one of the 10 oldest surviving bars in NYC. Also check out 6 hidden alleys and private streets in Greenwich Village.