LOVEJOY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The saying around Lovejoy's new gathering place is "Spirit-free for the Free Spirit." Sandra and Luther Robinson, with their partner Joe Sciandra, have transformed the former Checkmate Bar and Grill into Speak Easy. Checkmate shut down about a year ago following a shooting outside the establishment.
Notice something different? It's not just a name change. Speak Easy does not serve alcohol. The owners hope becomes a neighborhood hang out where friends become family. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/4Ufk9Q7mE4— Olivia Proia (@OliviaProia) September 26, 2019
"We're not just going to live here and be complainers. We're going to be changers," Sandra said.
"The atmosphere in here is electrifying," said Luther, "This place really is a bastion of change like the rest of the neighborhood."
There's everything from non-alcoholic beer, mocktails, to Kombucha on tap. The majority of the menu is local, featuring classic Buffalo foods with different takes. Sandra even makes the simple syrups, sour mix and ginger beer herself.
"We are trying as much as we can to use Western New York stuff," she said.
Speak Easy is also playing on a growing trend: mocktails. In an interview with AP News, Amanda Topper, the associate director of food-service research for the global market research firm Mintel, said mocktails are growing because fewer people are drinking alcohol, especially young women. She said it's connected to the #MeToo movement.
"This generation drinks about 25-35% less than our generation, so you're looking for something different and healthy," said Sandra.
They also want their place to be more than a venue to grab dinner and a drink.
"We don't want people to feel alone and lonely in this community. We want you to be able to come some place and enjoy someone else's company in a safe environment," Sandra said.
"If you come here with a smile on your face, you're going to leave here with an even bigger smile on your face," said Luther.
Speak Easy will open this Friday evening.