Openings: Bandit's Roost Speakeasy

Inspired by a Jacob Riis photograph of the same name, Tribute Hospitality Group has launched a speakeasy and lounge called Bandit’s Roost, downstairs from American-influence restaurant, Church Street Tavern.

Located in New York's posh Tribeca area, owned by nightlife and hospitality veteran Jon Behling, guests will feel like they’ve entered a mobster-filled alley. The lounge depicts the era the photo want taken with black and white tilted floors and red felt wallpaper showcasing the large photographs from the time period. Chruch Street Tavern takes guests back to an old New York ambiance with vintage décor, a classic American menu with a modern twist, and a vibrant raw bar.

Nightclub & Bar caught up with Behling to ask him all about the new endeavor.

Newly Opened Bandit's Roost Lounge in New York


What is the reasoning behind having two completely separate names? Isn’t it hard enough to establish one brand?

Church Street Tavern and Bandit’s Roost are two separate entities and two separate concepts.  While we of course expect there to be overlap in the clients who dine with us and the clients who frequent downstairs, some diners may be completely unaware of a club in the basement and vice versa.  Church Street Tavern will be branded as a new American restaurant with non-intimidating amazing food, great cocktails and a relaxed lounge ambience at the bar. Bandit’s Roost is an exclusive speakeasy catering to downtown nightlife go-ers. While there will be some client overlap, they are two different things and we just thought, “Why not launch them both at once?”

What are membership privileges at Bandit’s Roost? Who will be the members, and what happens if non-members want to come? 

The membership program is simply there to offer existing clientele and new clientele an elevated level of hospitality, it’s not the only way to get in. The privileges of being a cardholder are mainly a fast and easy access and entry process. When management is alerted via the code of their impending arrival, we can ensure they get in quickly and that their table is set up for them with their pre-determined bottle or cocktails of choice.  Existing members come from me and my partners’ existing rolodexes and we will invite frequent diners and weekly, rely on our PR to send codes out to various VIPS and industry tastemakers. Guests without a card or code can just ring the buzzer outside and the doorman will come upstairs and help them. It’s a small venue so entry will be at the doorman’s discretion but we don’t intend to be any tougher than any other downtown lounge.

Will Church Street drive Bandit’s Roost in a one stop shop fashion?

Church Street Tavern is extremely food focused. Our chef de cuisine is Chris Burke created a really amazing American menu.  While diners can go downstairs to Bandit’s Roost, we anticipate they will remain pretty separate from one another. The upstairs bar is really chill for the after-dinner crowd so we anticipate most diners will stay upstairs for cocktails after dinner.   Dinner at Church Street Tavern doesn’t necessarily feed into a night downstairs at Bandit’s. 

What is Tribeca like these days and how will Bandit’s Roost contribute to the area?

There’s a lot of great little places opening food wise like Café Noir and it’s becoming way more of a neighborhood with all the huge condo buildings popping up. There’s little to no lounges in Tribeca for this particular demographic and we think Bandit’s Roost will be filling a niche that’s missing down in that area. Food wise, everyone in the neighborhood just wants a place to get a great burger but they want a great cocktail to go with it and a place to hang out in the neighborhood. The area is really missing that.  Again, it’s completely void of any speakeasy type spots right now too.

Bandit's Roost has a gangster motivated theme. Tell us why and what have you done to ride that wave?

We were really excited and intrigued by the area and the culture in the early 1900’s.  The Jacob Riis photograph, Bandit’s Roost, just gave us so much inspiration and the entire Five Points neighborhood in general was specifically always cool to me. So when I saw this small intimate space I just knew it’s what we should do with it. It’s not specifically a gangster theme but it’s based on the era and on Jacob Riis’ iconic photographs of the gangster-ridden alleys of the Five Points neighborhood, specifically that of Bandit’s Roost alleyway.  The décor will feel like the time period with a mirrored hallway entryway, subway tiles and red felt on the walls, and of course the photographs blown up.

Tell us about the music and the equipment you are using.

Everything is completely new!  We are using the new pioneer system, cdj 2000’s, brand new mixers, everything is new and state-of-the-art!  We are going to do an open format music program with our DJs so you can expect to hear anything  from Led Zepplin and rock of the time period to new age stuff and top 40, very open format so there’s something for everyone!