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Sebastian Scholl

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Sebastian Scholl

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Speak easy1

Even if the chef or bartender isn’t as talented as another elsewhere, I’d rather visit the venue that is hidden. Fortunately for me, the professionals that find themselves in such environments more often do have some edge or flair. But whether the location is tucked behind a barber, shoe store, taco truck, book shelf or basement doesn’t matter; hidden is really the only criteria. They could sell corn flakes and cough syrup for all I care.

Why? I’m not the only one. Across the country and world “speakeasy” style concepts are sprouting up like the very weeds that have for much longer occupied the same spaces these businesses seek-out. Abandoned warehouses, rooftops, buildings, and basements that were once barely fit for rodents can now draw in a chic, affluent and discerning clientele. Often to neighborhoods that are still cause for concern.

These scenes are undeniably cool. It is as though MUGATU predicted the future with his Derelict® campaign. However, it does seem counterintuitive. Particularly in such a “see and be seen” society. Why would people who spend their days sweating over self-promotional quantifiers like Instagram <3’s and retweets prefer to be tucked into a shoe boxed sized bar than walking 5th Avenue or the Miracle Mile? Furthermore, what’s preferable about a vodka soda mixed below ground than above ground?

speak easy 2

This is a personal opinion, obviously. One that I felt like sharing after two cups of cold brew coffee and the desperate need to put my shaking hands to a task.

The web has made everything accessible. I’d guess that over 90% of my mental information bank can be broken into with a limited character Google search. My opinions are Yelp reviews, historical recollection summed up by a handful of Wikipedia, and skills easily learned through a variety of YouTube videos. Almost all of the knowledge (not so much wisdom) that anyone of us have ever cemented into our minds is accessible by anyone with a smartphone.

It is the information age. And few of us aren’t familiar with the concept that not money, but information, is power. So, from a social standpoint, we are slowing developing an attitude against those things that are too visible – or too accessible. Secrets, whether contrived or not, are now considered social intelligence. And this new category of businesses are incorporating such an appeal into their brand images. As long as they are able to walk this fine line, more often than not their rents are cheaper, products more expensive, and clientele more loyal.

~ Sepp

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