TOWN OF OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Nearly 100 years ago, alcohol was outlawed in America during Prohibition.
But rebellious Americans still gathered to drink in secret clubs, including one recently discovered speakeasy that reopened Friday night on Long Island.
When John DeVito and his brother opened their frozen yogurt and ice cream shop several years ago on Farmingdale’s Main Street, they knew nothing of its notorious, secret past that’s now revealed from behind a fake library shelf.
DeVito discovered secret entrances to the basement, where gangsters once mingled with both the working class and socialites to do what was forbidden during Prohibition – to have a drink.
“You know, we were sitting on top of a real speakeasy, we were sitting on top of history, and we felt that we needed to bring it back,” he said.
The new owners restored the original tin veneer walls and ceiling tiles, and they used the original wooden support beams for the bar. The decorations are all 1920s vintage, including the photographs and their frames.
“The pictures are all real pictures. It’s all my mom and my grandmother,” DeVito said.
Striving for authenticity, he created menus from the tin that lined the walls and he brought in a century-old cash register and rotary phone that both still work.
Ahead of the grand opening, DeVito has been giving curious customers a sneak peek. But to gain entry, he will honor the speakeasy’s time honored tradition.
“People will be able to walk through that door if they have the password,” he said.
The password can be found on the website for this new-old speakeasy.
The restored speakeasy will also feature live music and a bank porch that’s accessible through one of the secret entrances.