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Downtown Knoxville sees return of the 'speakeasy'

12:58 AM, Feb 18, 2012   |    comments
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It may seem a little out of place in 2012 to open a bar based on outlawing alcohol, but downtown bar managers say it's  about recreating the private, secretive ambiance of a speakeasy.

During the Prohibition years of the 1920's people who wanted to sell and drink alcohol moved the party to illegal speakeasies.

These days Crown and Goose owner Jeffrey Dealejandro says he's hoping to capture the mystique of the speakeasy with The Underground.

He opened the bar adjacent to the Crown and Goose in November and says so far the business has been great.

Curved ceilings, gentle lighting, and private nooks make for the "off the beaten-path" atmosphere.

The sliding doorway between the restaurant and the bar is intricately painted to resemble a British telephone booth, adding to the sense of secrecy.

Dealejandro attributes the rising interest in throw-back style venues to the customers desire for quality, house-made products.

"We can make beautiful dragon fruit puree from scratch and put a little bit of effort into it," says Dealejandro. "All that stuff back in the day was garnished in front of you, made from scratch."

The Oliver Hotel also opened up a speakeasy style venue called "The Kern Library." 

Unlike the underground, which has a lighted storefront,The Kern Library is undetectable to the casual passerby.

The Library's Manager Jessica King says they're trying to limit their exposure, citing secrecy as the most alluring part of the speakeasy concept.

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