ALAMEDA -- The Roaring '20s are back, at least as the theme behind a new night life spot set to open in April.
Developers are hard at work on Capone's Speakeasy at 1400 Park St., across Central Avenue from Starbucks. The bar and lounge is going up in a bank building that dates to 1888 but was renovated in the 1920s, the time period the new venue aims to recreate.
"It's a great part of American history, and people love that part of history -- the Roaring '20s and Prohibition days," said Capone's Speakeasy CEO and President Mark Strachan, an Alameda resident who also runs Construction Innovations. "I like history a lot and believe people are attracted to the beauty and ambience of that period, which is really different. And the building, well, it fits everything."
Strachan said he and his fellow investors have been working on the Roaring '20s concept for a few years, but "had a hard time" finding the right place to turn their dreams into reality.
"It's really about bringing you back to the '20s and period recognition," he said. "We are not out to glorify the bad parts of that time."
Capone's Speakeasy, Strachan said, is going to "be a very, very classy place for adults. There will be a dress code. It will look like 'The Great Gatsby' inside -- very beautiful, with great live music and incredible food."
The nightspot will have 85 seats in the dining area, along with a 72-foot wood-topped bar, a private dining area inside a bank vault and a second-floor VIP balcony area. It will feature female staff dressed in flapper outfits, and male employees in vests or suspenders "to go with the theme," said general manager Julie Ferrantino. Security staff will wear zoot suits.
Besides Capone, whose criminal activities earned him a stay on Alcatraz from August 1934 to January 1939, the other significant presence at the speak-easy will be executive chef Nicholas Koliopoulos.
Koliopoulus' focus at the restaurant is on modern American small-plate cuisine. The Bay Area native most recently was with the Ranch at Little Hills in San Ramon and the Auburn James Tasting Room in Danville.
The venue, of course, will also offer specialty cocktails, a California-centric wine list, beers made by small producers, live music, DJ entertainment and a Sunday brunch. The Capone cocktail will include cognac, rum, whiskey, elderflower liqueur, vermouth, Peychaud's bitters orange essence and chocolate-mole bitters, while the Bonnie and Clyde drink will feature gin, beer, passion fruit purée and agave.
"There is one person on our board with a friend that owns a 1932 V-12 Packard and a 133-foot yacht that belonged to Al Capone, and the boat is now docked in Alameda," said Ferrantino, who lives in San Lorenzo.
Strachan said he hopes to display the Packard on Central Avenue for opening night, which is set for late April.
"That would be something cool," he said.
"Alameda is such a great town," Ferrantino said. "Everyone is so supportive, and that makes a huge difference. We can't wait to open and also to do community events. We want to give back and be involved since Alameda's that kind of place."