Chumley's Today

86 Bedford Street
Manhattan, New York City
FORMERLY: A Speakeasy from the 1920's


Photo via: NY Times

Welcome to having the rare chance to live as the famous poets and writers once did in New York City. When the iconic dreamers moved from all over to the West Village to fulfill their wishes of writing and surrounded themselves with fellow artists such as musicians who performed close by on MacDougal Street. In the early to mid 1900's apartment rent was about $12 a month, sadly the stories the writers wanted to share were not good enough, thus they had to succumb and give in to the editors in order to pay rent with stories they weren't inspired by. Since the apartments were small and not very well decorated, Chumley's not only became a place to write in peace but also where they would host meetings and friends. In other words, this hidden bar with no signage outside made it hard for just anyone to get in, became their living room so to speak and they were told you can write in Chumley's but do not write about Chumley's. However, in non discreet ways Chumley's did end up entering their published stories which brought tourists from all over to this small, local bar. Rumor is, the term '86' used commonly in restaurants today was created here during Prohibition, when police were on their way and bartenders had to tell everyone to exit quickly out the '86' (Bedford Street) door!

Step into Chumley's today and you immediately feel as if you were transported back to the early 1900's. Hemingway, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, J. D. Salinger all hung here with unique stories that they created. For example, in the middle of the restaurant behind a wall was the Fitzgerald's favorite booth to hid in and also all the original book covers of former patrons are still in tact hung on the walls. Sadly, the historic hatch doors have been covered up but this restaurant is still special in many ways. Being one of the few bars in this residential neighborhood off the beaten path of the more well known streets such as Bleeker and 7th Avenue. Hidden but marvelous inside. Rebuilt for today's cool glam but filled with stories and rich history that happily will not be forgotten thanks to Chumley's new operator Alessandro Borgognone (also owner of Sushi Nakazawa) for hiring a historian to stand on site and share the lovely tales of this one time speakeasy.

After a few fabulous Side Car cocktails, I was able to sit down with Chumley's Historian, Jim DiPaola and cross reference all of our research on the famed former locals. If you have time, make the dinner reservation one month in advance as requested and I assure you one fabulous night you will not forget. Click below for the full interview with Jim DiPaola.

 Interview with Jim DiPaola at Chumley's



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