Prohibition ended in 1933, but many customers still flock to speakeasy-style bars. A new one is slated to open next month in Hyde Park, a space where cell phone use will be frowned upon.
Visitors will need a password to enter the Hyde, coming to 5121 S. Harper Avenue. It should open in late December with a large selection of cognacs, bottle service, and live music. Ownership encourages future customers to dress in 1920s to 1950s-era fashion to help fuel the speakeasy vibe.
The bar has several quirks from owner Jovanis Bourgoub. Though he recently closed his flagship PorkChop restaurant on Randolph Street (he blamed increased rent), he continues to run smaller locations at Midway International Airport, in Hyde Park, and the South Loop.
Back in 2016, Bourgoub transformed the basement at his Randolph restaurant into a speakeasy-style bar called Meet & Whiskey. Though it was short lived, he’s still enamored with the idea. He wants to keep the space exclusive and mysterious. Customers will have to check the bar’s Instagram for the entrance password. The space is about 1,400 square feet and it will be dimly lit with candles. The entrance is unmarked hidden between maintenance closet walls, according to a news release.
“I’m going to make it a little harder for people to go in,” Bourgoub said.
Bourgoub also couldn’t provide many details on the food menu. That’s because he’ll changing it weekly and only customers at the bar will see it, he said. It will mostly house small plates and two entrees. In this day and age of food allergies and dietary restrictions, Bourgoub doesn’t think his mysterious menu will pose problems.
“If it’s a health issue, we will work it out, it’s just being picky — that’s what we have,” he said. “We will not reveal the menu to anyone unless you’re walking in...if you don’t like the menu, you can go next door and eat over there.”
The bar will feature more than 100 cognacs, including selections from Bourgoub’s native France. He feels the spirit is ripe for a comeback.
But let’s get back to cell phones. Bourgoub doesn’t want them to be a distraction. He very accurately noted that people in the 1920s didn’t have cell phones, and he doesn’t want zombies to focus on their screens. The bar will include areas where customers can take photos, but he doesn’t want folks spending all their times browsing or texting. If someone has to text or make a phone call, Bourgoub has a solution.
“You can go to the bathroom, that’s fine with us,” he said.
Some bars have tried to ban cell phones. Three years ago, Dion Antic gained national attention by announcing that his relaunch of Harry’s Velvet Room in Lincoln Park would ban phones. The bar didn’t last long. Bourgoub didn’t seem militant about the ban. He’s more interested in taking customers back to a simpler time.
Bourgoub feels he’s doing Hyde Parkers a favor by restricting phone usage. He said that many residents routinely complain about obnoxious phone calls. He hopes the Hyde won’t have to deal with such complaints.
Check back in a few weeks for more information about the project.