After a facade collapse in 2007, legendary West Village speakeasy Chumley's was forced to shut its doors after 85 years on Bedford Street. There have been attempts to reopen the tavern over the years, but efforts have been repeatedly blocked by a group of vocal neighbors who don't want another bar opening up opening on their street. Their latest move: a lawsuit against the SLA they hope will force the agency to revoke the bar's liquor license.
Despite operating hours restrictions imposed on the license, the 47 NIMBYs associated with the group Bar Free Bedford have concerns that the "unruly, drunk and extremely loud" crowd from Chumley's hayday will return to disrupt the quiet of the block. "There is no analysis why the authority believed this bar is needed in this quiet, mid-block location and why it is in the public interest to open a 22nd drinking venue in an area besieged with problems from such establishments," the suit contends.
Chumley's owner Jim Miller, a retired firefighter, has been slowly attempting to reopen the iconic bar, which saw visitors like Faulkner and Steinbeck back in the day. "I feel so badly for him," head of the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association Kathryn Donaldson told the Post. "It's an institution, it's been here forever, it's a part of our history." Certain minds just don't care much for history, sadly.
If Chumley's succeeds in reopening—fingers crossed!—at least it will keep some of the neighborhood's historic character alive. Alternatively, it could be gutted and turned into one of the generic corporate chains that's opening everywhere else in New York. Will these "good neighbors" welcome their new juicing overlords? Probably.