Lucy’s, the East Village dive bar run by its namesake owner since the 1980s, has closed and is facing eviction by a landlord who recently bought the building for $19 million and reportedly raised the rent.
The legendary bar appears on the verge of becoming the latest downtown staple to shutter, following in the footsteps of other mainstays like Mars Bar, Grassroots Tavern, Manitoba’s and many more. Efforts to reach Ludwika “Lucy” Mickevicius were unsuccessful.
Mickevicius first took over the Avenue A joint in December 1987, according to an eviction notice taped to the bar’s door. She was the primary bartender for nearly 40 years, frequently offering shots of Polish vodka on the house to regulars along the way.
“It’s super disappointing and frustrating, especially because what makes New York City so unique and special and iconic is these small businesses, these bars and restaurants that have been around for many decades,” said Alex Tellides, 26, who lives near the bar.
He said his best memory was “just coming here at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. on a Saturday night with your friends, knowing what the environment is going to be like, which is very New York. A real representation of the melting pot.”
Mickevicius became a revered elder stateswoman representing the neighborhood’s old guard, before it became a pricey playground for the wealthy. The median rent in Downtown Manhattan in December was $4,495, according to real estate firm Douglas Elliman. The bar, with red neon lights, pool tables and a jukebox, remained unchanged for its many years of operation. Every year, Mickevicius would shut down the bar for a few weeks to visit family in Poland.
The bar stayed open through the Tompkins Square Park riots across the street in 1988. More recently, her business survived the pandemic – though she told one neighborhood news outlet she owed “$20,000 for rent and water.”
The joint was temporarily closed in November by the Health Department for operating without a permit, according to local blog EV Grieve. But only two months later, Mickevicius told the blog she had a new landlord who wanted to raise the rent to $25,000 a month. Records show Lucy’s building was sold to an LLC on Dec. 20 for $19 million.
A message left for the new landlord’s attorney was not returned.
Eviction papers dated Jan. 29 on the bar’s entrance indicate it has 30 days to “vacate and surrender possession of the premises to [the] owner.”
Court records show Mickevicius recently faced eviction from her own apartment, as well. The owner of her apartment sought to evict her from her East 4th Street apartment last year for unpaid rent. Records indicate the dispute was resolved without her eviction.
“She should be really proud about the bar she had and how iconic it is. And every time I brought a friend to Lucy’s they always just remarked that night or the next day about how much fun they had and how nice it was,” Tellides said.