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Apr 10, 2013 01:20 PM

Hidden/Trick Doors-- love or hate? Clever or Pretentious? Never seen it?

What have you seen?

Did it add to the experience/ambiance of the restaurant?

Was it a trend that I missed?

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  1. I have only encountered two places that had intentionally hidden entrances.

    At the first, the door slid open to your front left ["10 o'clock" position] when someone passed closely enough to the mouth of a stone Chinese Dragon next to the walkway.

    At the 2nd, you descended a flight of fairly steep stairs and were met with three rock walls. There were two tinted windows which showed the interior of the restaurant. Three pillars, each topped with a light, stood close to the wall you faced when you reached the bottom of the stairwell. Waving your hand over the lights caused the Entire Wall to the right to slide open. We went there multiple times, but never found an exact combination of hand waving.

    1. You missed it, but they're still around. At least in Manhattan.

      PDT opened in 2007:

      Little Branch

      More recent:
      Hudson Clearwater
      Lantern's Keep

      1 Reply
      1. re: thegforceny

        What about Chumley's? Didn't that reopen?

      2. I've only witnessed them at bars, and even then they were part of the schtick.

        In Kansas City there is a prohibition-era styled cocktail bar named Manifesto that is in he basement and you can only enter it by either going to an unmarked door in the alley or through a narrow hallway through the back entrance of a restaurant on the first floor. When it first opened and word of mouth started generating about the place I thought it was rather pretentious. However, with time it bothered me less.

        In Milwaukee I went to place called the International Spy Bar. To enter you had to go into a front entry room and then either provide a secret password or else perform some sort of amusing act (do a jig, etc). Upon appeasing the doorman a button was pushed and a secret door slid open and you entered. Inside the actual bar is a closed circuit TV that shows what is going on in the holding room where people who have already entered can laugh at you. I was in town for a conference and found the whole thing quite amusing the first evening. I took some other friends back a second night and found the whole thing incredibly lame.

        I guess in general it's kind of a novelty, but nothing that really keeps me intrigued.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pollymerase

          The one in Milwaukee might actually be called the Safe House...?

          It's been there since the 1970s but I haven't so I've no idea how it is these days.


        2. There's BBQ joint in Mesa, Arizona with hidden doors to the restrooms. The men have to open the door to a Pepsi vending machine and the women have to open a door in a telephone booth. The kids' response is "what's a telephone booth?" I told them that years ago people had to find a telephone and put coins into it to make a telephone call. Frequently the telephones were in a little booth to provide privacy for the person making the call and so they would not annoy the people that were around them. The response was "why would they need to do that?" (I still have not successfully explained long-distance calls.)

          1. I don't recall ever going to one though I have read about a few restaurants that have them. Honestly, I just don't see the point. It seems like a gimmick and not that clever of one.

            Now if it is a dinner theater that is participatory, then that would be different all together.