By Peter Sloggatt
Thankfully, prohibition ended when politicians saw how how ineffective it was, not to mention the tax revenue being lost. The fun-loving spirit of the era lives on in one of the area’s most exclusive private clubs: The Founder’s Room.
A members-only (and their guests) playroom, the club is located on the ground level of The Paramount concert venue. Like a Speakeasy, you gotta be on the list.
The walk down the corridor beyond the check-in desk gives a taste of what’s to come. Newspaper clippings, vintage photographs and artifacts of the prohibition era — and the gangster era it spawned — line one wall and lead to the main room where the theme continues.
The sprawling space is stylish industrial-hip meets old-world craftsmanship with raw brick walls, dark wood accents, leather chairs and comfy sofas. Artifacts recall the era; a copper still on wooden barrels, a glass-topped floor stash holds tommy guns, liquor bottles and other contraband, as if it had been thrown down in anticipation of a raid by lawmen.
Speakeasies were all about secret fun, and The Founder’s Room captures that spirit with a series of “secret” rooms. The Roosevelt room is a wood and leather tribute to Teddy Roosevelt complete with a bearskin rug in front of the fireplace. The Jail Room, with antique metal cell doors, recreates the Shawshank Redemption right down to the Rita Hayworth poster in the wall, an electric chair and actual props from the movie.
Then there are rooms hidden behind bookcases: a small one with a killer sound system and large screen TV that’s a favorite of visiting bands; and a large one decorated with medical instruments and torture devices (it's hard to tell which is which.)
The newest room is in a far corner and follows a railroad theme. It feels like you’ve stepped into a live Monopoly game.
Keeping with the theme, waitresses are attired in flapper dresses. On one wall, a blackboard is filled with the unique lexicon of the speakeasy and definitions. And in case lawmen show up, there are bowls of mints sprinkled about so guests can quickly freshen their breath.
The Founder’s Room is open on show nights, generally an hour before the show, and offers guests an opportunity to enjoy cocktails and a bite to eat before the warning siren (there’s that speakeasy theme) tells them the show is set to begin.
The kitchen, which supplies bites for sale in the main concert hall as well, turns out an impressive array of small plates and finger foods. A few are enough to make a meal, but more often, friends at the table share sliders, short ribs, skewered meats, lobster rolls, grilled asparagus spears and other small plates. All are several steps above typical concert fare.
Always open on show nights, the club is available to its members Thursday through Saturday, whether there’s a show or not. Thursday Night Live (TNL) presents live music every week, bringing local and regional talent to members (and giving the band a chance to say they played The Paramount.)
Membership has its privileges as well: early access to tickets, meet and greets with select performers, private rooms, drink discounts and access to VIP parking. And there’s always those times when the performers elect to take in the atmosphere and chill after a show.
If you like hanging with the stars, learn more at www.paramountny.com.