Travelers in the know have long found respite from the bustle of New York’s Grand Central Station in the famed Campbell Apartment. Cloaked in lush red banquettes, gilded draperies, and a stone fireplace, it welcomes visitors with its famous Prohibition Punch after a long day or before their commute home. Behind-the-scenes, though, the cocktail bar has been anything but tranquil lately.
In the late 1990s, Mark Grossich spent $2.5 million restoring the one-time pied-a-terre of railroad tycoon John W. Campbell into a bar filled with a glamorous Old World vibe and the means to make a perfect Manhattan. However, according to the NY Post, Grossich, who had been operating on a month-to-month lease, has lost the space. Grossich has sued New York’s MTA, who runs Grand Central Station, saying he was forced out through “an unfair bidding process,” but the Post reports he has only “temporarily staved off eviction in Manhattan Supreme Court,” and eventually will have to vacate the bar he made into an iconic spot.
According to the Post, the MTA has signed a ten-year lease for the Campbell Apartment with Scott Gerber, who runs The Gerber Group, a hospitality company that owns bars in several hotels, thanks to a partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The group runs New York outposts like Irvington in The W Union Square, Kingside in the Viceroy Central Park, and Whiskey Blue in the W New York: they, too, know how to make a bar into a phenomenon—and plan to apply these talents to their latest acquisition.
Gerber told the paper that the spot needs to be updated, and we’ll re-open it as a “fresher, better Campbell.”
Admirers of the cocktail den and its ability to transport patrons to a different era don’t need to worry that the Gerber Group will turn it into a techno-music-blasting nightclub, though. Gerber (whom you may recognize from an episode of CBS’s Undercover Boss) told the Post that he hopes to “keep the upscale speakeasy look and feel of its predecessor.”
“We want to bring the place back to what we feel it should be,” he told the Post. “It’s such an iconic bar, but we feel been neglected.” They hope to have the revived Campbell Apartment ready to receive visitors in August.