Barney Gallant was the first person in NYC arrested for serving alcohol during prohibition in 1919. He owned the Greenwich Village Inn and took full responsibility for the serving of alcohol during a raid to prevent his waiters from being arrested. He spent 30 days in The Tombs, the notorious jail in the city.
His arrest made him an immediate celebrity. Gallant went on to open swanky speakeasies and nightclubs, popular among locals and visitors from uptown alike. The names of his venues include Club Gallant, Barney’s, and Speako de Luxe. His clubs were known for the exclusivity.
Originally from Hungary, Gallant was a member of the Liberal Club in the 1910s, worked for a time as the business manager of the Greenwich Village Theater, and was Eugene O’Neill’s first roommate after his arrival in New York.
He died in a Miami retirement home in 1968.