Restaurant Review: Bakersfield’s very own “Speakeasy”

Restaurant Review

James Macias, Features Editor

A speakeasy is a very specific kind of place, or at least they were about 90 years ago when the prohibition of alcohol in America was busy defining American culture, creating a new generation of fringe entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in bootlegging and going on to give America her favorite son.

There is a new nightspot on the northwest side of town called 1933. This place is an interesting combination of hipster retro replay (which just means it’s not very original) and half-hearted upscale social pandering. There are numerous elements around the interior (and outside to a lesser extent) that suggest a 30s reference or perhaps influence, but if you are looking for an immersive or even mildly accurate depiction of any aspect of 1933 then don’t waste your time.

The property has two sections which are unimaginatively called “Prohibition” (a bar/nightclub currently open only on the weekends) and “Speakeasy” (bar/grill) I’m not sure what the idea behind the decor and style choices might have been but it fails to fully commit on every level.

For example, as you approach the main entrance under an ironically giant sign that reads “Speakeasy” in white letters, the eye is drawn to a beautiful décor piece which looks like wall of stacked whiskey barrels that are all marked either 1933 or whiskey in black letters. Obviously this is exactly the opposite of what an authentic speakeasy might look like.

Inside, “Speakeasy” has everything in common with pretty much every other bar I have ever been in, except that the prices are about half as high as the bars I usually hang out in. I’m not saying that you will be bored and broke when you leave, I’m just saying that’s what happened to me.

In all fairness I have to mention that the outside patio which is ostensibly designated for smoking has several activities laid out for guests to enjoy which are actually shockingly entertaining. giant Jenga, giant Connect Four and Cornhole(a bean bag tossing game involving wooden targets with holes in them). I found myself completely taken in by the atmosphere on this patio and played Jenga for a couple of hours longer than I had intended to linger within this establishment in the first place.

Overall I found the 1933 complex to be an amusing, if not rather expensive place to hang around with a couple good friends. The staff was friendly and helpful enough, although management was somewhat blatantly hard to reach and the facilities were suitably immaculate for a place that sells domestic beers for $6 a pop. Admittedly I might have been more impressed with them if I had been able to reach the management staff and arrange a more complete demonstration of what 1933 has to offer but that is just not what happened.

**There is a lot more than can be said for about the 1930s and its contribution to modern American culture. Things like JFK, the development of jazz and feminism, even the civil rights movement got its start in the illegal underground saloons of that era which ended when the 21st amendment was enacted in 1933.