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Downtown Fort Worth bar reveals new speakeasy and party spaces after $4 million renovation

June 30,2023

See full CultureMap article by Celestina Blok here.

One of Fort Worth’s pioneering craft cocktail bars is nearly ready to reveal the results of a $4 million facelift: Thompson’s Bookstore has renovated and expanded across all four floors of its home in the historic Vybek building, at 900 Houston St., downtown.

New features include a reimagined underground speakeasy, plus a private event space and cigar bar on two floors that have not been used for 70 years.

The main bar, on ground level (which has remained opened throughout renovations) also got a mini makeover with a fresh coat of paint and new light fixtures.

A ticketed grand reopening event will take place July 29 from 5-9 pm, almost one year to the day that renovations began.

Thompson's director of marketing Clinton Bohn says they expanded in response to growing customer demand, with a desire to provide more for patrons, with a different purpose for each floor.

“We wanted to do this in a way that enhances the guest experience while still preserving the rich history of the space,” Bohn says.

The Vybek building was completed in 1910. Previous tenants over the past century included a pharmacy, coffee company, drug store, and the original Thompson’s Bookstore – an actual bookstore that operated from 1972 to 1993.

Thompson's Bookstore opened as a cocktail lounge and speakeasy in spring of 2015. It's been a finalist for Bar of the Year at the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards a couple of times.

New-and-improved speakeasy
In the newly reimagined speakeasy, previous kitschy pharmacy-themed décor has been replaced with sophisticated new design elements that harken the Roaring Twenties. Light fixtures, wall coverings, ceiling tiles, and plush seating feature dark jewel tones to create an intimate ambiance with semi-private booth seating.

Bohn says they wanted to maintain the essence of the speakeasy while bringing it into the modern era.

“We want our guests to feel as if they have been transported back in time with all the luxuries of today,” he says.

However, one popular element will remain – the password required to enter.

“We will still maintain the air of mystery and exclusivity surrounding the speakeasy,” Bohn says. “The only way to get the password will be from our weekly newsletter or, if you have a drink in any of our upstairs spaces, the password will be printed on your receipt.”

New Event Floor
A new, dedicated event space is taking over the third level.

Simply called the Event Floor, the versatile space will accommodate up to 60 guests for celebrations, literary events, and cultural gatherings.

Outside food and entertainment are welcome (more information about private events is here.)

New cigar lounge
On the top floor, a new cigar lounge will offer ultra-premium cigars in a refined space for aficionados and cigar novices alike.

A horseshoe-shaped bar and pockets of cushy seating are meant to encourage conversation with cocktails, they say. The lounge will also accommodate up to 60.

While Thompson's current craft and classic cocktail menu will not change, new signature cocktails for each floor will be debuted during the grand reopening.

“The renovations were not only about improving the establishment itself but also about contributing to the local community,” Bohn says. “The upgrades will help attract more visitors to the entire area, contribute to the cultural landscape, and support our local economy.”

Watch Thompson's website and Facebook page for more information on the grand reopening on July 29.

Location Mentioned: Thompson's Bookstore