Magazine article The New Yorker

Bridge Cafe; Tables for Two

Magazine article The New Yorker

Bridge Cafe; Tables for Two

Article excerpt

279 Water St., at Dover St. (212-227-3344)--This restaurant, housed in a red painted wooden building in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, has a lively history: the structure dates from as early as 1794, five prostitutes registered their occupancy of the third floor during the census of 1855, and the bar has served beer to fishmongers, pirates, snitches, and newspapermen, even through Prohibition. Adam Weprin, whose family owns the restaurant, says the place also plays host to poltergeists: disembodied footsteps treading the floors, impertinent spectral presences felt in both the men's and the ladies' rooms, and spooky whispers in one's ear. According to exhaustive research conducted by Richard McDermott, a retired science teacher and freelance historian, the Bridge Cafe should be considered the city's oldest drinking establishment. (McDermott, unsurprisingly, is not entirely welcome at McSorley's Old Ale House.)

When the Weprin family took over, in 1979, they renovated the restaurant but retained the dining room's nineteen-twenties lineaments--a low, pressed-tin ceiling, white wainscot walls, and a wooden bar running its length. The Wep-rins also tried to keep some of the local color by charging the bookies, who had long been regulars, pre-upgrade prices. …

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