The Campbell Apartment is undoubtedly a very special place in NYC—an out-of-the-way haven in Grand Central with some history and a good Old Fashioned. And hopefully it's going to stay that way.
It started out as an office space for John W. Campbell in 1923. It was never a residence, but Campbell—a railroad tycoon who served on New York Central's Board of Directors—did entertain there, adding a piano and pipe organ, and often inviting around 50 guests to come hear famous musicians play private recitals. Under Campbell's lock and key, the room was transformed from a bare barracks to a galleried hall of a 13th century Florentine palace. But after his death the place lost its patina. It wasn't until the late 1990s that its old glamour was revived, thanks to Mark Grossich who spent $2.5 million on restoring the space.
And now he is losing it.
The NY Post reports that Grossich has sued the MTA and "temporarily staved off eviction in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday," but he will eventually have to vacate. Grossich is paying $16,000/month, and requested that the MTA perform an independent real estate appraisal of the space, which is required by law. They didn't.
During what Grossich's lawyer calls an "illegal and unfair" bidding process, he lost the space to Scott Gerber, who runs The Gerber Group (which includes Irvington, a restaurant and bar in a Manhattan W Hotel). MTA spokesman Stephen Morello explained to the paper that Grossich had been operating on a month-to-month lease, and Gerber offered “significantly more” money for the space.
He plans to open a revived version of the Campbell Apartment in August—"We really want to bring the place back to what we feel it should be," he told the Post, "It’s such an iconic bar, but we feel it’s been neglected."
The space currently has a nice worn-in feel, which is kind of fitting for a bar being run out of a gorgeous old train station. We've reached out to Gerber for a better idea on the kind of vibe he hopes to bring in, and will update if we hear back. Grand Central doesn't need a nightclub, it needs a place to sit down and enjoy a drink before that train ride to suburbia. Though an enforced dress code for the cargo short-wearing, luggage-spreading tourists wouldn't hurt...