So the late-night bar and grill is going to have a speakeasy hosted by flappers … sure! I’m all for the aesthetic fusion and fun.
When I popped into Lakewood Social House two hours before their grand opening, the atmosphere was fairly hectic. There were cardboard boxes huddled to the sides of the establishment, phone calls and employee training around the booths, and a connecting side room cluttered with hardware supplies. I loved it.
The owner, who asked to be referred to simply as “Pete,” welcomed me inside despite the jumble.
“We’re counting down the minutes here, so you are going to have to keep up with me,” he shares lightheartedly.
My initial questions were typical. I wanted to know the seating capacity and the intended vibe.
Answer? It seats 80, and the guide for the location’s energy? “Fun,” says Pete.
Fun can mean anything, and when pressed further on what incomers can expect from the Lakewood newbie, Pete shares that that was truly the core. No need to overcomplicate things.
“Bars are supposed to be fun, not boring. We’re going to have live entertainment on the stage every night, we’ll be cooking some great food, and keeping the kitchen open until we close at 2:30 a.m.” He pauses for a second before taking the opportunity to jest. “Well, until 2:15.”
A bar that caters to your after-midnight cravings? Don’t let the neighboring fast food joints hear. Before I can mention it, he’s beaten me to the punch.
“People get hungry at night, and they want to eat. What do you do after a certain time, you know? And yeah, bars have some things to eat, but they're not really — I mean, Taco Bell is right around the block.”
Pete says that people want something more, and Lakewood Social House has got it.
The menu ranges from small bites and starters like fried pickle chips, buffalo cauliflower, and street tacos, all the way up to grill house staples like smash burgers and traditional Cuban sandwiches. Emphasis on the “traditional.”
“Everything we’ve got [in the kitchen] is traditional. Traditional kitchen appliances, traditional stovetop, traditional flat top grill. It’s perfect for our smash burgers because a smash burger is supposed to be a flavor bomb, and ours definitely is. It’s not fancy, it’s down and dirty. It’s git ‘er done. If you end up wanting it with a side of angioplasty instead of fries, we know we’ve done it right.”
The same thing goes for the Cuban, says Pete. “We're gonna do Cuban sandwiches, but we're gonna do it traditional. I don’t feel the need to try to elevate something that is already perfect, and the Cuban sandwich is perfect. That's why everybody loved it, right? So, I don't need to change anything. I just want it to be how it was supposed to be.”
Sounds great, but back to the vibe. How do I dress for this place? As Pete showed me around, he addressed the connecting side room, referring to it as their “amber room” a.k.a the soon-to-be speakeasy tricked out in 1920s prohibition-style luxury.
(Photo courtesy Lakewood Social House)
“This is a work in progress, and I’m taking it one step at a time.” Pete shares as we lean into the open double doorway, canvassing the room in mid-construction. Despite its incomplete status, the outline is already gorgeous. “Not as gorgeous as it’s going to be,” he declares.
“I can’t wait to get this thing running. I'm gonna make this prohibition-style-1920s before the crash. This isn’t going to be here,” he says tapping the open double doors. “I'm gonna have a solid piece of wood here and design it to look like stacked whiskey barrels. All speakeasies have bookcases, and I wanted to do something different, but we’ll still have the buzzer, the passwords, and the craft cocktails and high-end drinks that take six minutes to make.”
But that’s for the future, what about the now?
“Social house is someplace where everybody can come and enjoy, and where something's always going on. It’s supposed to be fun,” Pete reminds me. “You're never going to miss something. There's always going to be something to see here, there’s always going to be something happening on that stage. I don’t want performers, I want entertainers. I want the people to engage with each other and have fun.”
He can tell that I am still fishing for something more definitive, and in response, he motions to the sleeping overhead television screens. “There will never be news on there. Never any political stuff. This is just for fun.”
I try a different tactic. “The Vanderpump Rules reunion is on tonight. Will that be on?”
He laughs. “Uhm … I mean if people want it. If they request it, why not. I don’t expect anyone to ask for Bravo, but I’m not gonna turn it down if the people want it.”
(Photo courtesy Lakewood Social House)
That answer was good enough for me. By this point I was beat. I’m going to bet that the screens are more inclined to host sports than reality TV — making my jeans the perfect accessory to fit the brick-and-mortar’s tone. Need more? To confirm the environment, Pete wants you to swing by and experience it for yourself. With a lot to offer, and even more on the way, it doesn’t seem like you have a chance of being disappointed.
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