Woodson & Ford: Death of a Speakeasy

So what happened to the much-whispered-about speakeasy at 643 Broadway at Bleecker? The basement space, known as Woodson & Ford, has a long and legendary history. Walt Whitman and Mark Twain supposedly drank here, and that’s even before my time. More recently it was the ill-conceived, ill-received, and ill-attended Table 50. Q-tip made it happen for a minute, and Stretch Armstrong almost extended its run, but it eventually was flipped into Mr. Black, which in turn eventually moved along and to great success over at Rebel. Recently, Mr. Black’s move to the Room Service space seems to have hit a snag, as some of the displaced Pink Elephant team seem to have wrested away control of the joint. Mr. Black will be gold wherever it ends up, but that’s a story-horse of a different color. From a dear friend, here’s the deal about what happened over at the super hush-hush top-secret Woodson & Ford, a speakeasy that nobody was supposed to speak about at all.

An outstanding operator by the name of Gabriella Mlynarczyk renovated the space with permission of the owners, and in November 2008 opened up what she charmingly called Woodson & Ford — not that she ever allowed the media to know the name. She was not allowed to speak to the press, as the owners wished to keep it all a secret. I must say, she accidentally created one of the most intimate and exclusive event spaces the city had seen over the past year, due to her great taste in vintage design coupled with her outstanding ability to offer fine foods from the upstairs cafe and of course curating a wonderful cocktail menu. Without her knowing it, Woodson & Ford became a silent but huge success story. It was pulling in REAL events by people with REAL money … everyone clamored to know when it would be opened to the general public, but it was not to be. In the past few months the owners could smell success, and in their own desire to one day live a glorious life in the spotlight of nightlife decided that they would take control of the space themselves. They have shuttered Woodson & Ford and plan to open a new speakeasy to the general public in the spring, no doubt robbing what they learnt from Gabby and trying to take a stab at it themselves.

Gabriella has had to cancel countless events that were booked way into December … the space was about to explode, and with it the accolades that she deserved. She has been asked many times by the media for interviews, but she was not allowed to speak to the media. I firmly believe the owners, now knowing how well it was going to do, were afraid of letting Woodson & Ford run through till the winter. Had it been too successful and they decided to change the space in the spring, they no doubt knew the public would be very critical of their own newfound baby if it did not live up to the standards that Gabriella had created.

I have urged Gabriella to find a space for Woodson & Ford … she has all the contacts of all the clients she successfully served, she brought in REAL money, and surely their must be a space downtown that would love to have their space transformed into a classy cocktail/event space. So, that is the story of Gabriella … she deserves some recognition — even more, she deserves a space.

I guess this is a shout-out or job application, but surely there must be such a space. I know a few, but they’re very top secret, and I’m sworn to secrecy. It’s one of those dilemmas wrapped in an enigma things. I guess it will be all good if I just text message around town.

The mysterious and very hush-hush Kelley & Peng space at the corner of 2nd Street and the Bowery is preparing to open. The three- which could be four-story joint will be a restaurant, as a 1am liquor license allows little more. I don’t remember why it was Peng instead of Ping, as in the Kelley & Ping on Greene Street. Something to do with feuding partners I assumed, or was it simply an awning typo, but anyway the place was awful with inedible food and confused staff. Location, location, location for sure, but you have to be at least mediocre. Kelley and Ping/Peng was a pig pen with bad food. The space was coveted by many operators, as the Bowery keeps getting hotter. I know what’s up and who’s there, but it’s all very hush-hush and I’ll have to tell you later.

This world is so yin/yang or ping/peng as there are so many people screaming at you to tell their story and so many others begging you to keep it quiet. What’s a poor blogger to do? I guess it’s like movies — if they suck, you can open them in 2,000 theaters and take out full-page ads, rent billboards and TV time, and shout it out with the stars telling silly stories on Letterman, but it won’t get you past the first week or two. Word of mouth is powerful. If something is swell, you can whisper it and the coolest hear it first and the masses later, and that works best. OMG! I know so many great secrets right now, but I cant write about them right now, or nobody will tell me more secrets to write again.