top of page

I Know You Know in New Britain, Connecticut

This elegant CT ‘speakeasy’ bar/eatery requires a passcode to get in. Here’s how you get it.

69 Arch Street, New Britain, Connecticut

The need for illicit bars ended when prohibition was lifted in 1933, but a “speakeasy” reminiscent of that era recently opened in New Britain and it requires a passcode to enter that changes weekly.

While the owners are calling it a “speakeasy,” it’s all legal, so it’s more like a bar/restaurant with a fun touch of clandestine.

Aside from the passcode, there’s a door handle disguised in a bookcase after one enters with the code. The curtains are so full that not a soul will see in from the street.

“I always liked the concept to do something different because there are hundreds and hundreds of bars in Hartford and the area,” said Marlon Soriano, one of the owners.

“People will get more excited because you need a code to get in. You don’t feel like you’re in a bar. No one can see you from the outside,” he said.

The new speakeasy, named I Know You Know, is owned by Marlon, 34 and Andres Soriano, 38, brothers who came from El Salvador to the United States when each turned 17.

The third owner, Atileo Lopez, is their former neighbor in El Salvador who owns the building at 69 Arch St.

The “I Know You Know,” is to “let everybody know you must be in one of the best places in Connecticut, Marlon said.

Arch Street has seen some limited revival in recent years; to foster further improvement, the city is planning a streetscape makeover similar to what it did downtown.

The brothers, fascinated with the Prohibition era, which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages nationwide from 1920-1933, have had longtime dreams of opening a speakeasy.

The authentic speakeasies were hidden or disguised, often without a name. The patrons were said to whisper or speak easy upon entering the bar.

The Soriano brothers, who term the eatery “upscale”, thought the location was perfect because it’s in an old building with a 1930s feel, including some brick walls inside. On the exterior of the building along with the name, is the word, “Prohibition.”

The weekly passcode for entering will be posted on social media — Facebook and Instagram – or can be obtained through a phone call to the speakeasy. No one will get in without the code, the brothers said.

Once in the first door, patrons are met with a bookcase that has a handle, because it’s actually a second door.

The 12,000-square-foot space is elegant inside – a lounge setting with leather couches, a fireplace, bookcases stocked with books.

In addition to specialty drinks, wine and craft beer, the eatery will serve tapas, or appetizers, including a cheese platter, calamari, Brussels sprouts with goat cheese and prosciutto, Cuban style sliders, empanadas, mussels.

In yet another twist on the typical bar model, patrons can choose to buy a membership for $500 that allows them to store alcohol purchased there in their own locker. The membership also entitles them to discounts, including in renting a separate, private room that seats 30.

The brothers, each of whom started as dishwashers and worked their way through the ranks of the restaurant industry, already own two other businesses together.

For three years they’ve been a vendor at Hartford’s Parkville Market, selling Salvadorian food and they also run the bar and other business at the Assembly Room in New Britain.

Andres Soriano said their mother and grandmother ran their own markets in El Salvador, so as far he and his brother’s love of customer service, “We have a thing in our roots.”

“I love meeting new people and taking care of people,” Andres Soriano said. “I’ve met so many good people every day.”

Marlon Soriano said, “I like to see people happy.”

133 views0 comments


bottom of page