Friday, June 26, 2020

Checking in on Blanche’s Lucy’s Tavern

Blanche’s Lucy’s Tavern — aka Lucy’s — reopened back on May 30 for take-home drinks here at 135 Avenue A between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street. However, she went on a short hiatus this past week, and returns today at 4.

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

“What’s behind this door?” I ask Ludwika “Lucy” Mickevicius and her bartender Gary Johnson. “The basement,” I am told, “it used to be part of an ice cream shop. Do you want to take a look?”

Do I ever! It’s Friday night, and I’m inside Blanche’s Lucy’s Tavern — colloquially known as Lucy’s — to take a few photos of Lucy and her bartender/helpers as well as the space, most of which is dark and empty due to the COVID-19-related closures.

Lucy’s is selling drinks to go from a flower- and American-flag-decorated table in the doorway, and a sign detailing the beer varieties available, including Polish brew Żywiec.

We climb down the steps to explore the basement, with Gary pointing out the taps and wiring as well as specialty bottles and supplies. I’m fascinated with the space and we both remark on the lack of any broken glass. We squeeze our way upstairs through the stockroom (no easy feat as it’s piled high with beer!) and out into the bar pausing to look at the covered-up pool tables and darkened jukebox.

I’m not a drinker, so it’s with a bit of shame-faced embarrassment I ask for some water, but Lucy hospitably mentions she doesn’t drink either and we enjoy some coconut water, sitting so far apart from one another it’s hard to communicate or hear one another from under our masks.

We chat for a bit about the future of bars in NYC, and what socially distant pool games might look like. Lucy’s concerned about paying the rent, and about safely attracting clientele during the pandemic. She rings up my icy coconut water order on an old-fashioned cash register, and I step outside to see if anyone has purchased any beer from Walter Zoeller, a retired firefighter, and today, Lucy’s assistant.

It had the feel of a summer’s day when I stepped into Lucy’s, humid and hot, swampy behind my mask, but while I was inside a brief rainstorm had occurred and when I left the sun was shining but the temperature had dropped and so had the humidity. The four of us looked to the skies in search of a rainbow, which I am sure is some sort of metaphor.

Lucy’s is open from 4 to 10 p.m.


Lola Sáenz said...

I LOVE LUCY! She's one of the sweetest ladies in town, she makes a Great vodka and cranberry!!Gary and Walter are so Cool and wonderful for helping Lucy! This Bar is one of my favorites,truly old school. Thank you Grieve and Stacie Joy, you bring a Smile to my covered face

Anonymous said...

hooray! thanks for this wonderful feature on this beloved bar! looking forward to buying a few icy cans from that doorway table!

Anonymous said...

Long live Lucy and Lucy's bar! I love this place and this post reminds me why I continue to live here. Thank you.

Eden Bee said...

I got to see Lucy's basement yay! Love her.