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Eater Trendwatch: Secret Room Backlash

It's almost the weekend, which means you might be considering hitting up a new bar—like, perhaps, the Blue Owl on Second Avenue, featured recently in this space? Perhaps you're even interested in finding your way to its de rigeur hidden room? In the interest of full disclosure, let us share two separate reader reports about said outpost and said secret chamber...

2006_02_blueowlA.jpg1) "I went into Blue Owl the other night to ask about the private room. Price is $35 / hour / person, and they require 15 guests, max of 25. Though we were debating having a party there, we were not allowed to even see the room. We decided the price was too steep, but took a look around the place anyway, and apparently wandered right into the private room! The door was open, I had no idea that was the private room until viewing the pix on your site. Knowing now how much they charge for that space, I can say with authority that it is not worth it."

2) "I stopped in Blue Owl last night for a drink meeting -- and also because it's literally right around the corner from me. Nobody seemed to have trouble finding the 'speakeasy,' with folks appearing to walk in off the street unbeknownst this place is the latest trendy underground venue. The place is damn pretty, that's for sure. The drinks were quite good (thanks, Annie!), the atmosphere relaxed and calm. And man-in-charge Ashley was shaking hands left and right like Bill Clinton. But when we asked the bartenders about the 'secret' VIP room in the back with the "two-way mirrored door" (according to UrbanDaddy), they didn't have a clue what we were talking about. So we checked it out. Sure enough, there was not two-way mirrored door. In fact, there were no mirrors or door to speak of. Just an open entryway to a room narrower than a subway car. But yes, there was a separate entrance -- for the VIPs interested in throwing back Moet as they fight for the three seats."

To be fair (which we are sometimes), we asked Blue Owl owner J. Ashley Smith if he'd care to comment. His official statement on the backlash is just ahead.

Yup, our bad on not having the mirrored door up yet. It took longer than expected to complete the construction and should have been installed by now, but it'll be in place by tomorrow night.

It's definitely a very cozy room, but I think it's a very good value at $35 per person per hour. To be clear, the Cocktail Room is not a VIP room; it's a private room for private events, and since we've opened we've had several successful parties back there with many guests rebooking for future events. Considering an open bar, charcuterie and hors d'oeuvres, private entrance, dedicated server, door person and the private room itself are all included in the cost, I think it's a pretty great deal."

Plus, we understand there is a password on some nights. Knowledge of which in and of itself is worth the price of admission. No?
· Eater Inside: Blue Owl [~E~]
· Eater Undercover: Blue Owl's Secret Room Revealed [~E~]