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With secret password, Gatsby speakeasy bar opens in Boise

If you’re tired of the same old Boise bar scene, a stylish new cocktail destination might be up your alley.

Like — literally.

Lurking among shadows off 8th street, Gatsby will open Saturday in an alley. Its entrance consists of a door with a small, mysterious skeleton-key sign above it. A ghostly green light beckons.

Go ahead, knock. Got the password? You’re in.

If you know where to look, Gatsby isn’t difficult to locate. It’s across from the Freak Alley Gallery. (Technically at 280 N. 8th Street, suite 130.) The bar’s concept isn’t entirely unlike the recently opened Thick as Thieves, 620 W. Idaho St., another “hidden”-entrance, high-end cocktail lounge.

But Gatsby strives to take customers back to a specific window of time: “It’s basically 1923 to 1929,” co-owner Will Primavera says. The space in the Idaho Building, formerly dry storage for restaurants and offices, has been transformed. “A lot of the walls are original brick,” Primavera says. “Original floor. We want to transport you back into the ‘20s. The cocktailers will be wearing flapper dresses. The guys are wearing the vests with the ties and arm band. The music will always be ‘20s, ‘30s.

“We know who we’re going to be.”

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The first room inside Gatsby is a small library. To get inside the speakeasy, a book on a shelf triggers a hidden door.

The entry password changes daily. You get it by calling a phone number on the website, gatsby1920.com.

Reservations are recommended Friday and Saturday nights, but walk-ins are welcome. If you visit, expect a speakeasy ambiance that encourages dressing up a smidge. OK, requires it —even in stubbornly casual Boise: “For guys, it’s pants and closed-toed shoes,” Primavera says, adding, “and you’re talking to a San Diego guy, so I get it! Ladies, is just cocktail attire — recommended, not required.”

Gatsby “rewinds you back to Tommy guns and prohibition,” according to a brand description, “with its crystal chandeliers, copper punched-tin ceiling, leather/velvet-tufted booths, live music and so much more. Every dim light room is the perfect backdrop for an evening of elegance … and perhaps mischief … just a little.”

On Saturdays, local singer Ellie Shaw will perform classic tunes from the era. Gatsby’s cocktails — also focusing on the the ‘20s — “I think, are going to knock people’s socks off,” Primavera says. They’ll be served in crystal glasses with handcrafted ice. A raw bar will offer Kumamoto oysters, jumbo shrimp and caviar “bumps.” Future food plans include quality charcuterie, Primavera says.

To make things even more exclusive, an elite, private Boiler Room exists beyond the two main Gatsby bar areas. VIPs don’t have to pay for drinks in that hidden social club. They’re members — forking over an annual fee ranging from $4,000 to $6,000. For them, alcohol is stocked in private lockers.

Does that all sound crazy? Boiler Room memberships currently are sold out.

Speaking of booze, Gatsby will not sell beer. Wine and champagne, yes, but not beer.

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The liquor selection will be “extensive,” according to co-owner Will Primavera. Gatsby

The liquor selection will be epic, Primavera promises.

“Our bourbon, whiskey, cognac, scotch, gin — our back bar — if it doesn’t rival some places in Vegas …,” he says. “It will be the biggest in town, I can tell you that. The most extensive.”

Gatsby will be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. It’s not a big place; it can seat up to 72. “But we’re not going to seat it over 40,” Primavera says. “We’re going to keep it what you would hope for a speakeasy, so someone’s not in your business at all times.”

Gatsby is the brainchild of Primavera and his wife, Nicole. The couple also owns Sid’s Garage restaurants in downtown Boise, Meridian and Phoenix. Much like feasting on “full-throttle comfort food” at Sid’s, the Primaveras hope, Gatsby will be memorable yet accessible.

“We don’t want to be a special occasion,” Will says. “We want to be a destination. We took (part of) a beautiful building in downtown Boise and brought it back to life.”

Follow Gatsby on Instagram: @gatsby19twenty.

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An entertainment reporter and columnist, Michael Deeds chronicles the Boise good life: restaurants, concerts, culture, cool stuff. Deeds materialized at the Idaho Statesman as an intern in 1991 before taking on roles including sportswriter, features editor and music critic. Over the years, his freelance work has ranged from writing album reviews for The Washington Post to hyping Boise in that airline magazine you left on the plane. Deeds has a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Nebraska.

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