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Speakeasy offers unique nightlife experience in Sudbury

A speakeasy is gaining popularity in Sudbury.

It's called the Night Owl and it’s owned by the same people behind the coffee shop Books and Beans.

Historically, a speakeasy was an illicit bar and they became popular during prohibition in the U.S. throughout the 1920s. Customers were required to whisper or ‘speak easy’ to gain entry.

Co-owner Liana Bacon said the idea was born pre-pandemic, out of a love of speakeasies and the chance to offer Sudbury a unique experience.

"It's something different in the city, it’s something a lot of people haven’t seen," Bacon said, of the Elgin Street business.

"So we love it and we want to bring people in with that hook and keep people coming back with the service and the quality."

Since opening in February, Bacon said business has been steady. She said it was TikTok video that made their establishment go viral.

The TikTok showcases the unique way patrons get into the space, picking up a telephone in a telephone booth. A bartender will let the customer in through a locked side door, leading them down a hallway to a bookcase.

"It's still an absolute delight to open this secret doorway because the response is always great to see," Bacon said, opening the bookcase to the speakeasy hidden behind a curtain.

"People really love the concept," she said. "We've had tons of positive feedback on the space."

While tipping bar staff is a cultural norm in Canada, the Night Owl said tipping is not expected, but appreciated.

"What we've done is brought up our prices a little bit to provide that living wage to our staff," Bacon said.

"We think it’s an important way to support the community by having our staff make a reasonable and living wage."

Lauren Pileggi, Night Owl head bartender, said the concept provides peace of mind.

"It kind of makes things a little bit more stable for all of us, so we don’t have to worry about whether or not we'll make the tips we need to survive," she said.

"It's dependable and we don’t have to stress about where our money is coming from, whether it'll be busy or anything like that."

True to speakeasy style, Night Owl hosts jazz musicians every Thursday, and said it's looking forward to welcoming more musicians in the next few months. Top Stories

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