The recent grand-opening of a high-end, New York-style speakeasy at the Grand Hotel is just further proof the city is embracing a vibrant, diverse, and versatile night-time economy.
The brainchild of owner and publican Lukas Thodas and his partners John and Phil Elsley, the same team behind popular venues The Family Hotel and Whistler at Maitland, and Blind Monk Bar in Newcastle, The Underground is unlike anything else the city has to offer.
With entry via a back lane reminiscent of old New York, or via the main pub upstairs, the space is warm, welcoming, and impossible not to love.
The lighting is dim, the music is a mix of jazz and blues, and the cocktail menu is a two-page delight to die for.
Add to that, a full restaurant menu that is available during upstairs trading hours, before a selection of tapas and light food takes its place until late.
Our vision was to create a New-York-style speakeasy similar to places we have visited overseas that was unlike any other offering here in Newcastle.
“We took over the hotel in mid-October last year and work on The Underground began in January,” Thodas said.
“The whole reason my business partners and I were interested in buying The Grand Hotel was because we’re all Newcastle boys and along with the great location and accommodation offering, we have unforgettable memories of coming here as 18 and 19-year-olds and enjoying the nightclub that was downstairs.
“But we also knew that Newcastle needed a space that is open late, has a great vibe, and isn’t so loud you can’t have a conversation. Our vision was to create a New-York-style speakeasy similar to places we have visited overseas that was unlike any other offering here in Newcastle.”
Good conversation, good drinks, and good food are the key ingredients of The Underground and the first two offerings do not disappoint. Featuring a new menu that is available throughout the entire venue, and an exclusive cocktail menu featuring concoctions made with a variety of ingredients including gin, pomegranate, sage, and orange bitters, to whiskey, rosemary, and lemon myrtle, the possibilities are endless.
“People say it feels like walking into a different world when they go down there,” Thodas said.
“The conversation is up to them of course, but what we’re offering is a place where people can escape, connect, and really enjoy themselves.”
The Underground is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm until late with the hotel’s iconic Jazz nights to return on Tuesdays.