BRIGHTON PARK — There’s a new speakeasy on the South Side.
It’s called the Coco Club, a classy haunt where music comes second to cocktail-fueled conversation, a far cry from the shot-and-beer joints dotting the area. At least that’s the vision of Anthony Lacoco, the 50-year-old restaurateur behind what he calls the neighborhood’s swankiest hideout.
“This is where you can chill out and relax and have a quality cocktail in a nice atmosphere, where the people are dressed the same as you,” said Lacoco, who spent much of his youth romping around private clubs. “Kind of like a throwback to the old Rat Pack days.”
The Coco Club sits above MaddAnthony’s Bar & Grill at 3550 W. 47th St, and is open from 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Though the Coco Club’s theme centers on secrecy, its location is anything but a secret. Sitting at the MaddAnthony’s Bar, you’ll spot a door with a sign above it: “Coco Club.”
No, there’s no password or secret knock.
Getting in is a matter of having the right threads. The dress code is “dressy casual.” Ladies wear dresses. Men wear sharp slacks or jeans with a button-down. No sneakers allowed.
The Coco Club is much different than Lacoco’s other business endeavors: a beef stand, MaddAnthony’s and Lacoco’s Pizza, next door.
Before the Coco Club, the restaurant’s upstairs was used as a banquet hall, sporting 10-year-old carpets and needing some renovation work. That’s when Lacoco decided to make one of his dreams come true: Build a speakeasy he would have frequented as a young man growing up on the South Side.
He thought about the reaction he’d want from his cocktail-centric clientele: “When you walk in, you say, ‘Holy s—, man,’” Lacoco said.
Lacoco took pencil to paper, designing a two-level VIP lounge with a DJ booth and his ideal bar.
He asked his wife to pick out Italian light fixtures while he ordered up Italian marble for the bathrooms. He installed mahogany walls and experimented with lighting until he settled on the perfect color bulbs and glass paneling: amber. The color, he said, makes the room glow with mystery.
There’s a stage, equipped with a drum set, microphone stands and amplifiers for jazz and comedy.
On the club’s opening weekend, Lacoco hosted more than 100 people sitting at the bar and small tables covered in white tablecloths.
The club boss hired a general manager to think up a drink menu full of high-class cocktails, priced at $13. There’s the “New Jersey Devil,” a mix of English Bishop, Lairds Apple Brandy, Apfelkorn Liqueur, Peychauds and orange, and “Cesca,” made with Plymouth gin, maraschino liqueur, Dolin Blanc and absinthe bitters.
On the martini menu, you’ll find the specialties like “The South Side,” made with Plymouth gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint and club soda.
If you’re feeling celebratory, you can get a bottle of Dom Perignon for $320.
The Coco Club’s beer menu includes simple favorites like Modelo and Corona. You can also order craft selections, like Gumball Head and Zombie Dust from Three Floyds Brewing Company and Anti Hero from Revolution Brewing Company.
Though the club is open two days a week, Lacoco plans to have special events. On Halloween, there will be a “Gatsby Party,” where customers are encouraged to wear flapper dresses and suits and imagine they’re partying in a scene from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel. The Coco Club will even host New Year’s and Super Bowl parties.
Lacoco hopes the Coco Club builds a reputation as a place that’s much more than the shot-and-beer joints littering the neighborhood.
“I think we get sold short. I would put this club next to any club, Downtown, up north,” Lacoco said. “Anywhere.”