Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy
On Tuesday, I met with Ludwika "Lucy" Mickevicius at her namesake bar at 135 Avenue A.
Lucy greeted me with a smile and a wave at the front door here between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.
She contacted EVG to discuss what was happening with the bar (aka Blanche's Lucy's Tavern) she has owned since 1987.
As we first reported on Monday, attorneys for the new landlord served her with a 30-day Notice of Termination with a demand to vacate the space by the end of the month.
Her lease expired in May 2015, and she was on a month-to-month arrangement with the previous landlord.
She led me to a table where she had been reviewing some paperwork...
For starters, she showed me her new liquor license (it had expired in late November, on top of a DOH closure notice for not having a Food Protection Certificate for an employee).
The paperwork has been settled, but her future running the bar is anything but.
She told me that her previous rent was $8,000 per month, and the new landlord, as of late December (West Lake 135-139 Avenue A LLC), is asking for $25,000, though there might be some willingness to negotiate.
So what are the alternatives? Perhaps she would find a new location for the bar? Not likely, she said.
Retirement? Maybe. She stressed, however, that she wasn't done here and would welcome a partner or investor.
"Right now, I have no idea. How do I go on? I have no employees. I must find a bartender. You must teach them, and they must have a permit from the health department. Last time, they did not have a permit, and I got in trouble. Big trouble," she said.
Lucy said she would be ready for retirement if that's how it plays out at 135 Avenue A. But she only wants to continue on at this spot.
"I don't think about this now, a new location, because I'm not finished here," she said. "I would like to sell the business or have a reduced role, a partnership.
"I have paid the January and February rent, but I didn't open because I am afraid of the new rent ... we have alcohol, but maybe not enough, and I don't have money to buy the good alcohol, so people have different choices to drink," she continued. "I have beer — lots of Miller High Life — and regular alcohol, but not the good stuff."
After we talked for a while, Lucy let me look around the dark, quiet bar that hadn't seen a customer inside in three months... everything was as it had been through the 1990s and beyond...
Before making my way back into the dusk falling on Avenue A, Lucy talked about all her customers through the years.