Party Prohibition-Style at the New Blind Bear Speakeasy

Posted by Holly Whitfield | January 3rd 2012 4443 0

To get into downtown's new speakeasy, you don't have to know any passwords or secret knocks – you just have to walk in the front door.

Blind Bear Speakeasy, Memphis, Tenn.

Mind you, when I tried to go to the Blind Bear for the first time, I pulled on the big front door, and though the bar was open, the door wouldn't. So I wandered around the building for a few minutes, trying to find a stealth entrance, impressed that the bar was trying to stick so closely to its prohibition-era theme. As it turns out, the there are no secrets to getting into the bar – you just have to pull on the right door. Lesson learned.

Blind Bear Speakeasy bar, Memphis, Tenn.

The Blind Bear's owners have transformed the old Circa / Bar None space into a dark and cozy bar that sticks just closely enough to its concept. Inside, there are nooks with couches and plush chairs, a pool table, dining tables with black jack and poker mats, and the servers are dressed appropriately. In cool nod to the days of moonshiners, draught beer is served in mason jars.

Inside the Blind Bear, Memphis, Tenn.

But unlike the speakeasies of yore, the Blind Bear has plenty of modern touches. There are three unobtrusive TVs (one by the pool table and two over the bar) that were tuned to Tiger basketball when I visited. They also host weekly poker nights (Tuesdays) and trivia contests (Wednesdays). On Sundays, they have a Hung Over Like a Bear brunch from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., which is a little later than most Memphis brunch options.

While the bar is more lounge than restaurant, they do have a fairly extensive food menu. There are a lot of snack-type foods (a sausage and cheese plate, fried mozzarella "bear balls"), but there are some bar food-type dishes with sides (burgers, fish, grilled cheese) if you need to make a meal. I tried the sausage and cheese plate, which came with sliced sausage, mustard and cubed pepperjack and cheddar cheese .

Blind Bear sausage and cheese plate

The Blind Bear is open nightly from 6 p.m. until 3 a.m., and for Sunday brunch from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m. The bar does allow smoking (though it wasn't very smoky when I was there), so it's 21 and up.

Go there:

The Blind Bear

119 South Main
Memphis, TN 38103


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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Comments

  1. Gigi Ballester says:

    Sounds terrific (except for the smoking part – not sure if I can talk myself and some of my friends into going there).  I do like the 3AM closing time during the week.

  2. Thad says:

    Would be great if non-smoking.  Alchemy is packed nightly and it’s non-smoking.  The bar at Bosco’s is always crowded, and it’s non-smoking as well.  So it’s more than possible to have a packed bar with a non-smoking environment. 

  3. Katie says:

    also is a back tv 😉 and a tv at the chef's table!

  4. Rebecca S says:

    Trivia is on Wednesday nights at 8!  Although I am not sure I should say that so I don't bring more competition 🙂 

  5. Rebecca S says:

    And poker is Tuesday.

  6. Gil says:

    This sounds like a cool place. I'd like to take my wife and her friends out this weekend for her birthday.
    How is the overall atmosphere? What do people wear? (never been to a speakeasy and I know my wife will ask me)  And finally are the drinks reasonably priced?

    • The overall atmosphere is pretty casual. When I went, I was wearing jeans and a sweater, but you could get away with dressing up or down. It’s pretty quiet early, but gets more crowded later. The drinks were fairly reasonable – I went with a friend, and he had a few whiskey and sodas and I had a French 75 and a martini, and our tab was about $30 together.

  7. Thank you so much for the blog.  Glad you liked us.  We did start a password on Fridays and Saturdays…the password changes nightly and will be posted on Facebook (Blind Bear Memphis) page and Twitter, @blindbear901.  If you don't know the password there is a cover but you can still get in. This Friday we have Grace Askew playing acoustic from 8-11pm! Hope to see you again!

  8. Sarah Blackburn says:

    Looks great but, seriously, smoking?

  9. A says:

    Screw the haters. I may have just found my favorite bar.

    If you won’t go to a good bar because there’s smoking inside, stop being pretentious and enjoy yourself. Kerry even said it isn’t that smoky.

  10. Fantasy Rideout says:

    I actually just picked up Smoking and Love this place 🙂

  11. Fantasy Rideout says:

    Got to love Main Street bars coming along, nice alternative to Beal if you need it

  12. Deb says:

    Can't wait to see the art being displayed by Shawn Mathews, love his work
    Love the alternative to Beal, from the description, sounds like the Blind Bear will be a great place to go.

  13. HK says:

    The atmosphere sounds cool along w/ using a secret password on the weekends& the smoking is on par w/throwbacks to a prohibition bar. I would like to try it out on a night where it isnt too crowded & smokey. It has nothing to do with being pretentious “A” It has to do w/the smoke totally kills my sinuses & gives me a sore throat & friends who hve asthma can’t breath. Also anything really nice that you can’t easily wash like a leather purse retains that lovely smell…

  14. PhilC says:

    I'm all with you all on the smoking issue.  It ruins many things aside from your health.  I wouldn't go just based on that info.  One of the things I noticed when I moved to Memphis years ago is that they are way behind on the smoking issue.  Obviously businesses haven't had an employee sue them yet.  Routinely I see smokers tossing butts on the street as if they haven't been educated at all.  That said I'm glad smokers have a place to go hang.  Grawemeyer's has trivia on Tuesday nights, no cover, music and no smoking.

  15. KenK says:

    We were in Memphis for a week in Aug 2013 and loved the Blind Bear–and being smokers we loved it even more–and won the Wed night trivia by knowing Thomas Edison was often referred to as the Wizard of Menlo Park.  Out of our 8 days in Memphis we were there at least 4 days/nights.  Love the bartender rules and going to be back again the first week of December.

     

  16. Marty B says:

    You smoking nazi's drive me crazy

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