Downtown Tyler restaurant introduces new speakeasy lounge

A restaurant on the downtown Tyler square is shaking things up with a unique experience in East Texas.
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 3:57 PM CST

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A restaurant on the downtown Tyler square is shaking things up with a unique experience in East Texas.

The owner talked about the inspiration behind a new speakeasy.

“Going out and having a couple of drinks doesn’t necessarily have to be a crazy experience,” said Culture ETX Executive Chef and Owner Lance McWhorter.

When visiting Culture ETX on the square in Tyler, the Plaid Rabbit speakeasy is hidden behind a janitor’s closet door, only accessible with a password.

McWhorter said Culture ETX is a vibrant fine dining restaurant, but he wanted to create a bar that was the opposite of that.

Before remodeling, he said a small lofted apartment took up one-third of his restaurant. It was occupied for nearly a decade. They were searching for other options, when the space came available just before the end of last year.

“We just stripped it to the walls and found this beautiful old 100-year-old brick, steel beams, and exposed pipes, and it was just beautiful,” said McWhorter.

He said with the Plaid Rabbit they wanted to create a space that takes the cocktail to an extreme.

“I didn’t build this bar to compete with anything in Tyler,” said McWhorter. “It’s a completely different animal. I built this to compete with other very high-end cocktail bars in New York and Chicago and San Francisco, Dallas, Denver... I mean, I want to put Tyler, Texas, on the map.”

McWhorter said the speakeasy has a chill, dark vibe inspired by film and literature.

“Kind of 1930s film noir meets steampunk and meets Alice in Wonderland kind of vibe, you know. The hidden entrance and the passwords to get in and just the eclectic things that we have all over this room just really make it cool.”

They have posted the first password on their Facebook page. He said when you visit, you should find the hostess at Culture ETX.

“Tell her the password,” said McWhorter. “Don’t just come in and ask for the bar because she’s going to tell you she doesn’t know what you’re talking about.”

The Plaid Rabbit at Culture ETX held their soft launch today and will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m.

What started out as a small apartment at the back of the restaurant, has now been transformed into an upscale bar unlike anything in East Texas.