The skinheadies and the punkies used to come here,” says the eponymous owner of Lucy’s. That was in the 1980s. You get a feeling she’s seen most everything in the 25 years she’s been there—from “punkie” madness to film crews to George Clooney and friends, and she’s nurtured many an aspiring artist along the way. After emigrating from Gdynia, Poland, in the late ’70s, she began tending bar at Blanche’s on St. Marks. Blanche’s moved, and Lucy followed. So did the customers, who lovingly began to refer to the bar as Lucy’s. Modest, sociable, and welcoming, she’s there every night from 6 to 4, inspiring the “dive” with the ambience of a second home. A life has accumulated here, its age bared haphazardly and unaffectedly. There’s a poster of the film Hurricane Streets (part of which was filmed in the bar), photos of past customers and friends peppering the wall, balloons and garlands in vases, Christmas tree lights, Picasso’s Don Quixote sketch half-hidden by the exit sign. The beer menu is extensive (20 bottled, including $2 Rheingolds and the rich Polish beer Zywiec for $4), plus Red Hook, Rheingold, Killian’s, and Foster’s on draft ($3 to $4.50). Most top-shelf drinks are $4, and she pours them strong. Two pool tables, a Golden Tee, and a pinball machine provide the recreation. If you go early, you might even be able to coax Lucy into a game, but a chat with her is enough to boost your spirits.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2004