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« Tuesday, July 13th, 2010—Bar 184 | Main | Sunday July 11th, 2010—Bar 182 »

Monday, July 12th, 2010—Bar 183

Day 183—Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Alright, first off, the PayPal donation bell has rung so hard I can hear it in my left ear, oh wait, that’s my tinitus roaring its ugly head, but none the less the bell has rung.

Ragin’ Ray Rogers sent in a generous twenty dollars with this stated purpose on the receipt: Purpose: “Just a little financial support from a fellow crawler as we embark on the second half of this adventure.”

Well, that’s more than just a little, Ray and I thank you and appreciate your generous donation!

Secondly one third of the Baltimore Bar Crawlers, Gene Rubbico sent in the very generous donation of $51.50 with this stated purpose: “Have an Old Speckled Hen at the Brews Brothers Bar.”

You’ve got it Gene. I’ll stop by there soon and have a few Old Speckled Hen’s in your honor. Gene is in the Air Force Reserve and is serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan for the next couple of months. I was lucky enough to be part of his send off party along with his wife, Smoopy, his friend Terry and yours fooly. They came to New York before Gene shipped off and joined me on the bar crawl, here’s a picture of the four of us out on the town, crawling around:
Thanks for the donation Gene! Be safe and I look forward to you, Smoopy and Terry rejoning the bar crawl!

Okay, last week I reported that I learned the legendary West Village bar, Fedora, might be closing its doors. I found out via Fat Al and Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York that the bar may be shuttering its windows. I decided to investigate, but right as I got there, the bar was closing. I did get to meet the sweet-smiling owner and bartender/hostess, Fedora and she said she’d be there on Sunday. So, the day is here and it’s off to Fedora’s we go.

Okay, the light's on this time and that's a good sign (no pun intended, really I just noticed it.)

Here's the bar. A true vintage wooden New York bar with a lone bowl of pretzels.

And here's the lovely Fedora serving me up a Budweiser. Fedora confirmed the rumors that the bar is closing. She can't continue to manage and run the bar due to health reasons and July 25th is the last call at Fedora's bar.

Here Fedora poses with John who's worked there for over 35 years. John says he doesn't know if the new management will keep him or not. If they're smart, they'll keep him and not change a thing in this wonderful bar and restaurant.

I spotted an Oscar among the various knick-knacks in the bar and Fedora told me it was an actual Oscar. Her sister got it for her and you can read the whole story in the review below.

And the Oscar for the most wonderful bar in the West Village goes to...Fedora!

Fedora showed me a photo of her and her husband Henry with the Oscar. The photo hangs on the wall.

Ava and Bil stopped in and said they just wanted to take a look around as they had never noticed the place before. I told them to take a long look, because it was closing, which saddened them. Fedora greeted them like she greets everyone, like life-long regulars.

Here's Fedora behind the bar with a photo of her two great grandchildren.

She told me this is her favorite photo in the bar, a portrait of a great lady in front of a great New York landmark.

An old school cash register sits in the middle of the bar.

A phone booth with a door on it. Made back in the days when phone calls were meant to be private.

Vintage photos line the walls.

This is a note from Lauren Bacall. Fedora told me the story that she came in for dinner  years ago and Fedora's husband Henry approached her and said, "I know who you are, you're Lucille Ball." Lauren Bacall laughed, told him who she was and wrote this note saying, "Henry, never mix your celebrities!"

Here's the dining area.

And here are some diners, from left: Doug, Alvin and Hugo. Doug and Alvin have been coming here since the '60's and are sad to see the end of Fedora's.

Here's a long shot of the bar who's final last call is looming.

Goodbye Fedora and goodnight everybody.

There’s no sense in writing a review of this legendary bar and restaurant which has been a West Village fixture since 1952, because in a couple weeks it’s gone. Poof. Fedora, who’s one of the sweetest women I have met in my whole life told me she has some health issues and has to rent the place out to other people. She just can’t run it anymore. She told me the last night open is going to be July 25th and that there wasn’t going to be any hoopla or last night festivities. She said she wasn’t even sure she was going to be there that night. Fedora told me if she could keep it going she would, but sometimes life deals you cards that aren’t easy to hold and she has to let it go. I asked if the new management would leave the place as it is and she told me that they were going to renovate it inside, but they told her the outside sign would remain and they'd keep her hours the same, in respect for the neighbors living nearby. We’ll see. If they’re smart, they’d leave it exactly as it is and just fix up what needs to be fixed, but again, we’ll see.

I had a great night in there and felt blessed to be able to spend close to an hour having a few beers and chatting with Fedora. She told me that her sister Norma was the secretary for legendary Variety editor Abel Green and that she had asked Green to help get the official Oscar for Fedora that is perched up on the bar today. I also learned that Fedora’s husband  Henry was the bartender for years and she mainly worked in the kitchen. When Henry passed away 13 years ago, Fedora took a more active role behind the bar. She told me that her and Henry always kept the hours of the bar from 5pm to 11pm so their neighbors wouldn't be disrupted by people leaving the bar late at night. Bar owners concerned about their neighbors, imagine that concept.

This was really a bittersweet night on the old bar crawl. When I was ready to leave I went over and kissed Fedora on the cheek and thanked her for her time and for chatting with me and wished her well. I took one last look around the place and headed for the door. You should really stop by before July 25th if you can. Take a good long look at a slice of New York’s history that is disappearing and preserve it in your memory banks. The promise of the future of all tomorrows look about as bright as a burnt out screen on a Blackberry.

To Fedora!

239 W. 4th St. (near Charles St.)

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Reader Comments (26)

What a fitting song for this crawl,,,,Mary Hopkins "goodnight" actually written by Paul McCartney. Its sad to see a place like this close. What is even sadder is when new people come in and gut the interior in the name of "lighting it up" or "sprucing". Basically ruining a great bar. I hope i am wrong and they preserve the wood, always preserve the wood. Great way to start the second half, with a great bar even though bittersweet.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAl

Damn ! I wish this place was closing later, like October 14th, I'd close it down !

$51.50 seemed like a good donation to Marty:


Also ... it's the name of one of my favourite Van Halen albums :)

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@gene... hahah i kinda wondered about that ammount!
Marty this post brought tears to my eyes.. absolutely beautiful!
I wish I could see it before it goes:(

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

Great post, Marty. Bittersweet story, but a nice homage to a lovely woman and her place.

Oh, and congratulations on passing the half way point. It's all downhill from here.



July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFat Al

@Fat Al: Thanks for the (Fedora) hat tip about this place, I couldn't have done it without you!

July 12, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

You've made me laugh here Marty and now you've made me cry. Touching post and tribute and I agree with Al, perfect song choice.

To Fedora!

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarfly

To Fedora!

July 12, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

This stop is one of the best on the crawl/crash.
What a wonderful slice of life, of love, for the neighbors and the neighborhood
and for Fedora's late husband Henry.
She kept it all alive.
I will keep Thinking Good Thoughts for Fedora.
Reading this made me feel I met her.
What a sweetheart.
THIS is life, this is the way we should all treat others.
This is so much more than just a bar crawl it indeed is a slice of life.
Here's to the Second Half.
I'll be with you along the way Brother.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

To Fedora...may the good Lord bless and keep her.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJaws the Cabbie

okay, this made me cry too. a wonderful bar and woman. perfect song at the end. i hope the new people don't change it. :(

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrita r.

Okay, for a while my comments are going to be really short - because I'm going to focus all of my mental energies (which aren't a lot, let me tell you...) on picking the winning lottery numbers before July 25. TO FEDORA! A beautiful and funny and sweet, kind lady. And TO JOHN! What an amazing show of loyalty to stay with Fedora for over 35 years! We should all be so lucky to have co-workers like him.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBiff


July 12, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

God Bless Fedora and I will be keeping her in my prayers. She looks like an amazing person and I am so sorry to see her wonderful establishment close it's doors but I am thrilled that you were able to vist the wonderful bar and meet Fedora herself.

Yaay Fedora and Yaay Marty!

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiki Bar Susie

Aw. Im so sorry to hear Fedora will be closing the doors in a few weeks. I am truly sad for her!

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

What a great clip. Mary Hopkins.............I remember her but forgot about her..............thanks for reminding me. Places like Fedora are the reason I moved here.............sorry to see another one go away. I am sure a great new club with a velvet rope will take its place.
What time is the next train to Newark?

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDan M.

@Dan M. For me it'll be the time they put up one more of those fucking T.G.I. Fridays! What a shame, huh?

July 12, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

What a sweet lady and a cool looking place. Hey maybe things will turn out better than expected and the new management will respect the heritage. Sometimes positive thinking works. And have to second @Al, preserve the wood! To Fedora!

sidenote: I got my awesome 365 shirt in the mail today! The black shirts are awesome. And if my batteries hadn't just died I'd send you a pic. Maybe tomorrow.

July 12, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkari

@kari: Thanks for buying a shirt! To you and to Fedora! And to wood!

July 13, 2010 | Registered Commenter365 Beers

To wood! And preservation!

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkari

Great Bar Crawl !!! Great Stories !!!


it was good to that 365 made it to fedora and showed us crawlers a great place and introduced us to a sweet lady...KOC


July 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterraginrr

Oh my! I expected this post because I saw Fedora as an amazing woman, strong, and yet sweet and kind, with a charming smile. how many stories are embedded within that bar. God bless Fedora, John his faithful and loyal bartender, and thank you Marty for another great experience filled with emotion.

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLuc Ramone

Oops, correcting my previous post, which reads "John and his Faithful ..." read "John her Faithful and..."
My english still sucks! Sorry...

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLuc Ramone

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