After an extended community meeting last night at St. Anthony of Padua Church, the operator of the long-shuttered historic speakeasy Chumley's finally has a reason to be hopeful. Having faced staunch opposition from some West Village residents—who filed a lawsuit to prevent the bar from reopening—Chumley's has now received the tentative blessing of Community Board 2's SLA Committee.

"We have always found common ground, and we hope to find it again," said Jim Miller, a retired firefighter who became an investor in Chumley's almost a decade ago and is now its principle operator. Last night Miller agreed to close Chumley's at midnight from Sunday through Wednesday, and at 1 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday. Under those conditions, CB 2's SLA Committee agreed to recommend liquor license approval to the full board.

This is the third time Chumley's has tried to renew its liquor license since it closed in 2007, after its chimney and a wall collapsed during repair work. Last year, a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by local residents who sought to block the tavern's reopening. (In her decision, Justice Barbara Jaffe noted that "In the modern world, some degree of noise, tension and discomfort is the inevitable concomitant of ­urban life.") A second lawsuit seeking to stop the bar is still pending.

Established in 1922 as a prohibition-era speakeasy, Chumley's became a frequent hangout for influential writers in New York City—including John Steinbeck, e.e. cummings, and William Faulkner. It also became home to activist and working-class New Yorkers who had lived in the West Village, including the retired firefighters currently fighting for its existence. (Engine 24 is located nearby on 6th Avenue, and the bar was a popular watering hole for many firefighters.) In 2000, Friends of Libraries placed Chumley's on a Literary Landmarks Register as "a celebrated haven frequented by poets, novelists and playwrights, who helped define twentieth-century American literature."

But some neighbors are still worried that another bar, no matter how historic, will mar the quiet, residential community surrounding Bedford Street. Although categorized as a restaurant, Chumley's previously maintained a 2 a.m. closing time on weekends, while all other restaurants on the block were shuttered before midnight.

"Frankly, we don't want the old Chumley's back," said Diane Kardekas, a resident from Bedford Street. "If we wanted to bring back a nice restaurant on that street, that closes at the same hours as the other restaurants, we can live with that. But the Chumley's before the collapse was raucous, there were people outside our windows smoking, garbage everywhere, fights, brawls... You're asking for a fight on the street."

"When it existed, it was a hangout for drunks, basically," said Brian Porzack, a resident on Grove Street for over thirty years. "This has become more of a little neighborhood with peace and quiet."

Jim Miller speaking on behalf of Chumley's (Eric Silver/Gothamist)

Chumley's has its supporters, including Steven Monroe Smith, a chef-restaurateur and longtime Barrow Street resident, who started an online petition a few days ago that now has over 1,600 signatures. "One of the first decisions you have to make [as a bar] is whether you will have a disciplined house. Chumley's will be a disciplined house," Monroe said last night.

Chumley's longtime owner, Steve Shlopak, was not in attendance, but it's clear that Miller is taking full responsibility for bringing the bar back to life. (After publishing this piece, we received word that Steve Shlopak passed away about three weeks ago in The Hamptons.) After listening to 14 impassioned public speeches, both for and against Chumley's, Miller addressed his place in the community. "We will bring back a Chumley's that everyone can enjoy, something that everyone can take part in. To do anything different does not make any sense, it doesn't make any sense to be at odds with the people we have to walk outside and see every day."