**UPDATE as of 6/11/12 – The Speakeasy will OPEN Thursday, June 14**
Midtown neighbors and Garrason's Tavern fans prepare: It's coming.
Adam and Danielle Sturges (Adam from McGrath's, as many of you know him) have purchased the property at Forster and Capital streets and are moving quickly to gut and update the historic bar and restaurant and transform it into The Sturges Speakeasy. (We'll just call it The Speakeasy.)
Passersby may already have noticed the removal of the red doorway structure and this week, a large "It's coming" sign appeared on the front steps. A large, wraparound awning with a long, sturdy valance will instead provide cover from the elements. A few outdoor tables will line Capital Street, and a booth selling on-the-fly lunch entrees also is in the plans.
Inside, a much-needed upgrade is in the works. The bar, tables, floor and drop-ceiling were all stripped from the first floor. High top tables will remain on the left side of the bar (one added back in where the old Golden Tee machine was). A new granite-topped bar will follow the same style as the previous, but with a bit more room in the entry way to ease congestion with a packed bar. The front dining area will feature oak high-topped tables and new oak tables will be set-up in the back dining area.
The Speakeasy takes the good parts of Garrason's – its chameleon-like ability to serve both politicos and neighbors with a blend of good dining and sports access – and takes things up a notch.
High-backed booths planned for the second floor dining room remind me of legislator-friendly haunts like the old Maverick and The FireHouse, a little privacy off Second Street. The upstairs game room will remain as such, with a facelift and new floors.
The most underused part of Garrason's will hopefully become The Speakeasy's best asset: the deck. Sturges told me his goal is to keep it open year-round with the addition of a pergola "roof," heaters, TVs and of course, a full service bar. On Sundays, this will become Steelers Nation. (Editor's note: I am so there.)
The Speakeasy's menu will offer many homemade touches, especially with its bread. All burgers will be made with USDA Prime ground chuck, and the fresh-cut French fries will be friend in peanut oil. (A fry daddy will cook up fries for those with allergies.) Other menu highlights will includes Black Angus Reserve Bone-In Ribeye, Blackened Catfish with fresh cornbread, Chicken Pot Pie, Chorizo Macaroni and Cheese and Steak Focaccia sandwich on homemade bread.
The location has long been a favorite watering hole for Midtown neighbors, as well, and it continues with The Speakeasy. The bar will offer 16 draft beers, including popular domestics and rotating craft options. Happy Hour will run 2-3 hours Monday through Friday, utilizing those precious 14 hour permitted by law to draw in the post-work crowd. Then, on Sundays, specials will coincide with sports events, particularly football.
Stay tuned for updates as the completion date nears. Credit and thanks to Nate at GK Visual for the photographs.