Capone's says 'Let's move on'
Capone’s Speakeasy would like to invite you in. There have been many conversations, rumors and innuendos about Capone’s since we opened our doors in August 2014. Let’s go back in time and take a look at the old worn-out bank building at 1400 Park St. The main portion of the two-story building was built in 1888 and a second structure in the rear was added in the 1920s. For many years different banks operated at this location with the most recent being Wells Fargo.
When Wells Fargo left, a travel agency moved in and operated there for many years. They retired and left the area. The building was vacant, tired and desperately needed a tenant that made sense for the large space, but that also had the money needed to convert it. Banks were not going in that direction so it needed to be something unique.
The building was marketed for many years and the combination of right type of use for the space and the money needed to make it happen continued to be elusive. Finally, there were two strong options and the owner of the building chose the group that was developing the Capone’s Speakeasy concept. He felt we had a very unique product that fit in nicely with the building and his strong desire to keep its historical look. The Capone’s historical era worked perfectly for the style and sweeping space inside. Plus, we had the seed money and determination to make it work with high end finishes and keeping the historical aspect of the building intact.
OK, we know that super high-definition flat-screen TVs weren’t around back in the 1920s, but on certain nights it is fun to watch your favorite sports team in action with friends on a night out. More on that later.
Construction began in January 2014 and we had a very strong desire to open the business in the early part of the spring or summer, but as happens in construction there were many delays. Still, after just eight short months the complete renovation of the exterior and interior were complete enough to open the doors.
Wow, what an opening night! Super packed and great bands playing with people dancing and many dressed in the 1920s outfits. It was a forced opening though as we soon realized that we weren’t really ready — our staff was not up to speed on service and we didn’t have enough wells at the bar. It was pretty loud, too.
We didn’t have our curtains up yet which would have helped with the sound. During the evening there was a regretful incident between the Alameda Police Department and one of the owners. Yes, he did go to jail, but all of the charges were later dropped and we have a great relationship with Alameda Police Department.
Let’s move on.
Capone’s Speakeasy has only been open for five and one-half months. It is a new concept started from scratch and we know there are many things we can do differently. We are trying to make it the coolest, most beautiful lounge and venue in the Bay Area. It takes time and changes are being made. We continue to upgrade our service and food and drinks. If you have suggestions on what we can do better, do not hesitate to contact us in person or via phone, email or our website.
So far we have held many fundraisers, mixers, weddings and private parties at Capone’s and look forward to doing more. Our very first fundraiser was for Breast Cancer Awareness. So it was very interesting to hear that we painted over the pink doors next door that lead upstairs to a dance business because we didn’t like the color pink. So untrue. We had nothing to do with that as it was that building’s owner that did it himself and we didn’t even know he was doing it.
Our recent fundraiser for the Alameda Boy’s and Girl’s Club was a smashing success and it was fun to see a wedding in the venue earlier in January. Our live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays are top- notch bands that love to play at
Capone’s. With the recently installed huge red velvet curtains the sound has been amazingly enhanced and the place looks spectacular. We have added salsa nights and comedy nights and ladies night and look to do more for you.
You may have been here once or twice and didn’t get the service you wanted or had some other problem. We are still learning and we ask that you please come back and give us another chance. You do not need to wear 1920s clothing. That was another rumor going around. However, to keep it a little classy we do have a minimal dress code that is only in effect on Thursday, Friday and Saturday after 7 p.m. — just no ball caps, shorts, T-shirts or flip flops. We have had many customers thank us for trying to keep it nice.
So, Alameda, we are not closing as some have said, we are getting better and hope to see you soon. Capone’s Speakeasy invites you in.
Mark Strachan is the owner of Capone’s Speakeasy.