Tuesday, June 13, 2006


At 86 Bedford Street between Grove and Barrow streets in Manhattan is found the most remarkable little place called Chumley's. Hidden behind an unmarked door that one would most likely miss if not forewarned, Chumley's is a restaurant, bar and former speakeasy which has been frequented by more prolific writers than probably anywhere else in New York City.

With two entrances, the other being through a non-descript archway at 58 Barrow Street, the speakeasy played host to Cummings, Kerouac, de Beauvoir, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Salinger and Steinbeck amongst countless other literary greats of the 2oth century.

Chumley's became the only place during prohibition for these authors to write, to discuss current events and to meet with their peers (all while imbibing in the forbidden spirits of the day).

As with many other speakeasies, the cops raided the joint quite frequently, but knowing quite well the clientele to whom Chumley's played host, the authorities would call Mr. Leland Stanford Chumley ahead of time in order to evacuate his guests through the 86 Bedford door as they raided through the 58 Barrow entrance.

Before the arrival of the police, Mr. Chumley would tell his select group of VIP guests to "86 it" while the rest of the establishment were arrested and taken away.

Needless to say (and I'm sure you all saw this coming), this tiny speakeasy is where we get the term "86" today. So, when you no longer want your appetizer, and you tell your waiter to "86 the salad", take a moment to remember all those poor drunk souls that spent many a night locked up in a downtown jailcell.

If you're ever in Manhattan, make it a point to stop by Chumley's for one of the best hamburgers in the city!

1 comment:

Big Daddy said...

Other origins of the term here:


Although, it's a poorly written site.