Lucy… she’s home!

Two and a half months after closing her doors, one of the East Village’s most beloved barkeepers– Ludwika “Lucy” Mickevicius– was back in her namesake tavern on Avenue A yesterday, dusting off bottles and offering homemade deviled eggs to excited passersby.

Lucy’s, an East Village fixture for over two decades, reopened for to-go service at 4pm yesterday, with “I Love You” balloons tied to its security gate. But the impish, Poland-born proprietress– a grandmother figure to many neighborhood drinkers– says she may have to close down again if she can’t make enough money selling cheap beer and $5 well drinks from her front door.

“I already owe $50,000 for rent and water,” Lucy said, lowering her mask slightly to be heard. Her landlord has been understanding, even offering to charge only half of June’s rent. But she knows that can only last so long. “Landlord is okay,” she said, “But landlord need money, he also has bills.” 

Lucy voiced frustration about a lack of guidance from the city (“Nobody gives information, you know?” she complained to an acquaintance who called the bar during our conversation. “It’s supposed to be the government gives some information!”) and said she’d be “so happy” if she was told she could reopen tomorrow. Serving drinks to-go, she noted, did nothing to bring back the conviviality that made Lucy’s a neighborhood treasure: “People coming to bar, and be comfortable, have a friend, meet somebody, have a, you know, sticky girlfriend and boyfriend,” she said, jamming her hands together. “Happy, playful, play music. Different life. But outside? Who would want to drink alcohol?”

During a press conference Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio said the city was still working on a plan for reopening bars. “We’ve got a lot to figure out in terms of social distancing, face coverings, protocols, and what amount of capacity you could create that would make it really worthwhile,” he said. “Because bar and restaurant workers have been really clear they need a certain level of capacity for it to be economically viable.”

Asked if she could survive if bars are required to operate at, say, half capacity, Lucy said she didn’t think so, noting that in addition to rent, she has expenses like garbage collection and cable TV. Due to her age (“I am very old,” she laughed, declining to give an exact number), the spry septuagenarian now needs to employ at least two other people. Yesterday, a longtime patron had volunteered to help her take orders at the door.

“To make money, you must be busy. With everything like that, [people] six feet far away, can’t play pool…” she said, shrugging out of uncertainty.

For now, Lucy’s will be open daily, from 4pm to 10pm. Lucy wasn’t sure how long the trial-run would last, and said that if it didn’t work out, she would take a vacation in order to come back with her energy restored for a full reopening. “If we just open [for takeout] and no make money, I go on vacation and be resting and be coming back with power.”

She added: “I am interested in returning to regular life in New York.”