21 January 2010

Frankie & Johnnie's Renovating, Expanding

Remember a year or so ago, when it seemed the old speakeasy-steakhouse Frankie & Johnnie's was done for, to be bulldozed to make way for a hotel? Well, the joint not only survived that scare—the recession deep-sixed the tower—but now it's renovating and expanding.

This may sound like good news, but sometimes a renovation is a desecration. A reliable sources writes:
They've regrettably renovated and the cramped stairway (see above, in its old form) that lead to the main dining room ain't so cramped cause they've knocked down the wall so when you get to the turn in the staircase you can see straight into the room.   They've moved the bar in the ajoining room and it's all very clean and dull.  It  just doesn't have that old speakeasy feel any more. BUT I was told they are opening a bar on the street level in what used to be the side room of Barrymore's.
Barrymore's was next door. It was shut down when it was thought the tower was going to be built. But, for those who don't remember, part of Barrymore's was actually not in the Barrymore's building. There was a side room to the left, just as you entered; that room was actually part of the building where Frankie & Johnnie's occupies the second floor. It remains. My source continues:
The street level room has been boarded up for over 3 years.  F&J's renovated just before the holidays and when I  paid them a visit they said they were turning the downstairs room into a bar. I noticed certificates of construction or some such official documents on the street level recently.
This is kinda nice news, but also regrettable. The original bar had a lot of history, and was beloved by theatre people for its secretive, hidden, cramped quality. You had to walk through the kitchen to get to it, and if you didn't know it was there, it wasn't likely you were going to find it.

What can you do? People have their ideas of what progress is, and unfortunately a bigger, newer bar is thought to be better than an older, smaller bar. Did F & J's survived the hangman's noose for this?

1 comment:

EV Grieve said...

Wow. Some good news for a change. I'll take it!