Ten Tips For Opening The Best Speakeasy Ever!
Recently, Deep Ellum welcomed its newest addition to the neighborhood, a retro-styled bar called Truth & Alibi that fancies itself a speakeasy.
Needless to say, Dallasites were set atwitter by the mere prospect of the Prohibition-era bar that does, by our estimation, a pretty half-hearted job masking itself as a sweets shop called The Original Deep Ellum Candy Company. The act of proudly being asked to recite a password before getting one’s drink on? Just a little icing on the cake, really.
On principle alone, T&A is perfectly befitting of a city like Dallas. Because, really, who doesn’t love to feel more exclusionary and thereby tangentially privileged than people from Dallas?
It makes you wonder: Why aren’t all bars speakeasies?
Sure, it takes a bit of creative strategery on the front end to get a good speakeasy off the ground. But, to that end, we’re here to help. Pay attention, current and future Dallas bar owners, and refer back to this guide to ensure that your future covert gin joint stands out from the rest.
• Get an SUP. This one’s a no-brainer! Sure, the original 1920’s were illegal operations working wholly outside the law to serve constitutionally-banned bathtub gin to patrons on the down-low, and often in teacups. But now that Prohibition’s long since been repealed and modern clandestine drinking holes are usually opened more as a marketing gimmick than as a means to skirt nosy coppers, there’s no reason not to go through the specific use permit acquisition process and get one’s proverbial ducks in a row with city officials.
• Pick a good “front.” One of the biggest keys to opening a truly top-notch speakeasy is blending into one’s surroundings. Survey all the nearby establishments and pick a fake business to pretend to operate. Try to think of one that really captures the spirit of the neighborhood! Like, say, if there’s a school nearby, maybe pretend to be a candy store?
• Hire a publicist. Do you really want to spend all of your time and money opening a bar, only for it to end up completely off the radar of the general public — or, worse, be so well hidden that even those in the know will experience some difficulty achieving entry? Trust us: You’re going to need somebody to blast that shit out and score you coverage in all the coolest local blogs!
• Brand yourself. It defeats the purpose of being a speakeasy if nobody knows you’re a speakeasy! An easy way to remedy that is to be sure to include the word “speakeasy” on every poster you put up, every press release you send out and pretty much every other time you talk about the place.
• Talk it up. C’mon: This ain’t Fight Club! The first rule of opening a wildly popular speakeasy? Talk about that sucker every chance you get!
• Invite local press to your opening. If all goes well, this is something your publicist will do for you. Your publicist should be on site at the opening, too. If not, be sure to ask that members of the local media who show up at your place take lots of pictures to publish on their respective sites. I mean, why bother investing in all that crushed velvet if nobody’s going to see it?
• Blast your password on social media. If you’re going to have the audacity to open a speakeasy, you might as well go all out and require patrons to recite a password before entering. Take things a step further, though, and get all belligerent when someone comes in and doesn’t know said password. For bonus points, pound a desk or some other nearby furniture and yell things like, “Who’s asking?!?!?” in your best mobster accent while chasing them away. Just kidding! Put that shit on blast! What good is a password if nobody knows it? No good, we say!
• Don’t be too strict about that whole password thing. Having a password is cute and all — and, hey, it does go along way toward stroking your customer base’s collective egos — but, at the end of the day, do you really want to be turning away paying customers? Of course not. Have a password, but go ahead and let everybody else in, too. Listen: There’s a reason they put the word “easy” in “speakeasy,” isn’t there?
• Don’t be too inconspicuous. An easy way to make your bar standout is too make sure there’s adequate signage. You’ll want to post signage for your “front” business, sure. That’s pretty much a given. But don’t overlook the opportunity to also buy some giant, neon signage that also indicates that there’s something else going on.
• Advertise. Word of mouth is fine and all, but, let’s face it, all the best bars in town spend at least some portion of their profits on advertising. A big print ad in the city’s most popular alt-weekly is a good place to blast out your password. So, too, are cool new media sites that could really use the influx of funds. When you advertise, not only do you win, but so too do these other businesses. It’s a win-win!
Congratulations! You’re now ready to open your own speakeasy. Be sure to invite us to the opening!