Charlotte's Speakeasy has opened on historic Main Street in Farmingdale, Long Island, New York. Since the opening of Charlotte's Yogurt in 2014, owners John & Nick DeVito had big plans for their building's basement—to restore the lower level to the speakeasy it had been during Prohibition. Leah Plevrites of studioBIG, who also designed Charlotte's Yogurt, designed the interiors, brand, signage, and menus to balance the glamour and grit of a clandestine speakeasy.
The design of the speakeasy carries through the colors and character of the yogurt shop and the historic wood-frame building that houses both establishments. Upstairs, sunny yellows and blues convey charm and hospitality; downstairs, glamorous gold and rich navy act as their sultry, adult relations.
To enter the speakeasy, guests enter the yogurt shop, locate a white bookcase at the end of the yogurt wall, and say the week's password. A doorman pulls a bust statue to reveal the secret entrance. The first glimpse is a dramatic glass chandelier hung above the stairs, set against mirrored wallpaper and reclaimed 1920s tin ceiling tiles lining the staircase wall. Once downstairs, ceramic wood-look tiles in a herringbone pattern subtly direct patrons to the bar.
Guest pull up custom-upholstered metal high-back chairs to the bar, gather in luxurious banquettes or in lounge furniture, or sit at dining tables for food and drinks. Solid wood columns removed to open up the space were reused as the top of the bar. The lighting above the bar references vintage liquor bottles—a fixture that looks like it could have been created by a resourceful speakeasy owner.
Custom antiqued mirrors above the left side of the bar visually expand the space. To the right, cork penny tile and fleur-de-lis wallpaper serve as a backdrop to the wine wall. The fleur-de-lis pattern continues into the Charlotte'sSpeakeasy logo, inspired by the pattern of original tin ceiling tiles salvaged on site. Leftover pieces of tin ceiling were reused as menu covers.
Refined navy velvet drapery on the back wall adds softness, improves acoustics, and reveals a cinderblock wall that adds another reference to an ad-hoc speakeasy location. Additional references to the location's storied history include vintage pictures of Farmingdale, the building, and the owners' ancestors.
The basement's wide exit stairs in the back—through which patrons in the 1920s may have escaped during police raids—lead to a new vestibule and large outdoor patio opening this spring.