Our favorite New York-related blog, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, had an excellent post Jan. 2 on Sophie's. He spoke with owner Bob Corton, who discussed the bar's history...and future:
In the 1980s, Bob worked for bar owner Sophie Polny, a tough old lady who ran a pub on Avenue A. Bob became manager when Sophie moved her bar (known only as the Polny Restaurant Corp.) to its current location on 5th between A & B, into a space occupied by a joint called the Chic Choc, named for partners Virginia Chicarelli and someone called Chocolate. “Chic Choc” is still written on the doorstep of Sophie’s.
Sophie Polny didn’t like to spend money. Bob recalls, “She only got a jukebox because it came free with the pool table. But she mostly used it for sitting on. The jukebox was her perch.” When she moved to 5th Street, rather than buy new, she brought her old wooden bar with her. It’s still there today, with its stained-glass cabinet doors and cottage-roof motif, a popular style dating back to (from my best guess) the early 20th century.The bar used to open at 10:00 in the morning for the old Ukrainian men who liked to sit all day over beer and shots of vodka. Said Bob, “If I showed up to open at 10:01, there’d be 8 guys waiting out front to get in and they’d hand me a bag of shit for being late.”