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Inside Red Phone Booth speakeasy — a cigar bar in an unlikely Dallas-Fort Worth spot

If you want to sip a cocktail at the new Red Phone Booth speakeasy, the first part of this adventure sounds simple: Find the bar.

But simple it isn’t, and maybe that’s part of the plan. Red Phone Booth is in Grandscape, the sprawling development near Nebraska Furniture Mart in The Colony. You could tell anyone something is “in Grandscape,” and they’d have more than 400 acres of land to consider. So here’s another clue: Red Phone Booth is in “the grotto.” That’s a two-story part of Grandscape with a subterranean section, where Red Phone Booth fits nicely under a crook of a set of stairs.

Once at the grotto, you’ll need to find the refurbished red phone booth. Now what?

At each Red Phone Booth, customers will pick up the phone and dial the "secret" number....
At each Red Phone Booth, customers will pick up the phone and dial the “secret” number. (Read the story for details on that.) Red Phone Booth is expected to open its fourth bar in the United States in The Colony in February 2023.(Brittany Sloan)

Walk into the phone booth, pick up the 1930s-era phone and dial a “secret” number, as founder Stephen de Haan says. Hosts and hostesses at nearby restaurants have it, as do concierges at hotels. (But here’s a hint: What number would you call if you were making a reservation at this bar? Try that.)

Inside Red Phone Booth are long, leather couches, dark-wood walls, and glowing ceilings. The most popular drink is the Smoked Old Fashioned and the entire 6,000-square-foot room allows cigar smoking. A ventilation system scrubs the air every 2 minutes, a plan de Haan put in place partly for COVID-19 protections but also to keep customers from smelling like smoke when they leave.

Now, some customers won’t use the red phone booth at all. Members at this 1920s-style bar can wave their hand near a sensor at a locked front door that will open anytime during business hours. We’re guessing Dallas-area businesspeople are going to love that trick when they walk up with new clients. Memberships range from $350 a year for one person to $5,000 a year for a group.

Food and drink at Red Phone Booth

Founder and owner de Haan, who is based in Atlanta, got his early start at TGI Fridays and began entering bartending competitions. But de Haan’s grandfather, W.J. Boortz, a Jack-and-water drinker, wasn’t impressed with his grandson’s flashy skills. Grandpa smoked cigars and liked a stiff drink, no fuss.

“Because of him, all our drinks are 2-ounce pours,” de Haan says.

Red Phone Booth is a cocktail and cigar lounge. Customers can purchase cigars on site (as...
Red Phone Booth is a cocktail and cigar lounge. Customers can purchase cigars on site (as seen here at the Nashville location) or bring their own and store them in lockers near the bar. (Dwayne C. Bass)

Much of the Gatsby-esque bar is an extension of de Haan’s personal story. Red Phone Booth is a (much) more upscale bar than Grandpa would have liked, but it honors his love for smoking and drinking.

The food menu is small — an “amenity” and not a full dinner spot, de Haan explains — and the Neapolitan-style pizzas on the menu are the result his month-long apprenticeship in Naples, Italy, where he learned to make dough and sauce from an 80-year-old Italian man.

Customers can also nibble on shareable plates of charcuterie or stuffed peppadew peppers. But most customers are here for the cocktails: the Hemingway Daiquiri, Negroni, Sazerac and other classics. The bar is expected to source rare Japanese whiskies as well as bourbon, scotch and tequila.

Actor Michael Cudlitz is a co-owner in the bar. Cudlitz has been in dozens of movies and TV shows, including Band of Brothers and The Walking Dead.

Red Phone Booth started in Atlanta in 2016. Founder and owner Stephen de Haan expects to...
Red Phone Booth started in Atlanta in 2016. Founder and owner Stephen de Haan expects to grow the speakeasy across the country, especially since he has plans to franchise it.(Dwayne C. Bass)

A private dining area with a pool table and a no-bets poker table will be coined the Mafia Room. Above the bar is “The Bob,” a painting of former bar man Bob Ruede, who worked with de Haan for a decade before he retired. Ruede was a legend at the original Red Phone Booth in Atlanta, beloved for his warm stories and because he wore a belt “like Batman” that was stocked with anything from ice picks to earring backs.

Ruede died a few months ago. He’ll be remembered at all three existing Red Phone Booth bars — two in Atlanta, one in Nashville — plus the newcomers, de Haan says.

The next Red Phone Booth, in Miami, will mark the start of the company’s franchise agreements. The expansion will be calculated, de Haan says, as many cities won’t allow cigar smoking indoors, even with a pricey ventilation system.

De Haan and his team have been working on opening a speakeasy in The Colony since 2019, and it’ll finally make its debut Feb. 20, 2023. Attendees can learn about memberships and see the inside of the bar during a six-day open house Feb. 20-25.

The founder says Red Phone Booth is an adults-only lounge — a place for travelers and locals looking to drink and smoke. Maybe they’ll come here to close a deal. Stop in for date-night after dinner. Or celebrate.

There’s one party that seems to be most popular here. “50th birthday parties,” de Haan says: “We do a lot of 50th birthday parties.”

Red Phone Booth is at 5774 Grandscape Boulevard, Suite 100, The Colony. It’s expected to open Feb. 20, 2023. Valet will be installed nearby, outside of Davio’s. Yearly memberships are available, though anyone 21 and up can visit Red Phone Booth, with no cover charge, if they are not a member.

For more food news, follow Sarah Blaskovich on Twitter at @sblaskovich.

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