Opelika speakeasy ‘Sneak and Dawdle’ open for business
By Morgan Bryce
No phone calls or secret passwords are required to enter new Opelika speakeasy Sneak and Dawdle, the latest in a series of businesses open in the new entertainment hub being created along 1st Avenue.
Open for business since New Year’s Eve, Sneak and Dawdle’s concept comes from California native Matt Poirier, restaurateur and owner of both The Hound and The Depot in downtown Auburn.
“It’s not a speakeasy in the sense that it’s not underground or has a series of ways to get inside… not anything like what people may think about from the Prohibition Era. But, there are elements like the lack of natural light and the way you enter in,” Poirier said. “I want people to come in and experience it. I want people to hear about it and be curious and come in and see the amazing work that the craftsmen did here.”
Since opening The Depot in September 2015, Poirier said he had an interest in opening a business in Opelika, but was unsure of what exactly it would be. Originally invested in launching a third business in the Midtown Auburn development on Opelika Road, he said delays prompted him to call personal friend and Opelika businessman Richard Patton who was heading the entertainment hub project within the historic cotton warehouse district at 1st Avenue.
“These old buildings are really cool and full of character. The Hound and The Depot both are in historic, old buildings which is really a draw for me,” Poirier said. “I’m really excited to see this side of the tracks start to develop, with John Emerald (Distillery) and Red Clay Brewery really serving as the trail blazers … also, seeing Richard’s vision and sacrifices to this area come to fruition has been cool to watch. I’m happy to be a part of that progress.”
The speakeasy’s primary focus is its craft cocktail menu, which presently consists of five offerings and an expected 20 by spring. Each syrup or tincture used in their drinks is homemade and comes from tried-and-true recipes.
They also have eight beers on tap, as well as bottled and can varieties, which will feature a seasonal rotation of beer from Red Clay and the soon-to-be-opened Resting Pulse breweries. Spirits from John Emerald Distillery will also be available.
A unique feature of Sneak and Dawdle include its first-come first-serve “snug,” Irish slang for a private, partitioned space used historically for meetings between public figures or individuals desiring to not be seen drinking or frequenting such an establishment. The business’s main icon, a bear, serves as its unofficial mascot and a key to understanding the meaning of its name.
“At The Hound, there are antlers used, and The Depot has the mermaid. When talking with our designers, we discussed the idea of finding an image or element that tied into the business … and what better choice than a bear, the state animal of Alabama,” Poirier said. “With the name Sneak and Dawdle, I think about a bear sneaking in to your campsite, lingers as long as it wants to, and it kind of dawdles. I thought it was kind of funny and appropriate.”
Relying on word-of-mouth advertising, Poirier said they had higher than expected numbers of visitors come to their New Year’s Eve grand opening festivities. Through its quality, ever-developing menu and calm atmosphere, he said he hopes to bring those guests and others back time and time again.
“I just hope for (people) to view this as a comfortable lounge and be a place for our customers to come have a drink and linger, unwind from a long day,” Poirier said.
Sneak and Dawdle’s current hours of operation are 5 p.m. – midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays.
For more information, like and follow their Facebook or Instagram pages. The business is located at 717 1st Ave. Suite B, between 10,000 Hz Records and Griff Goods.