JOAQUIN MANCERA Bristol Herald Courier
BRISTOL – After a few months of rest after having housed a comedy club and culinary school, Bristol’s former post office on Piedmont Avenue is now home to Old Post 33 Venue and Speakeasy.
Honey Rodgers, a native Texan who moved to Bristol three years ago, recalled how in January, after spending most of the pandemic thinking about her next business venture and some time at Blackbird Bakery, she threw one peek into the old post office in bristol across the street and i immediately knew it was the perfect location for a wedding.
“For two years, I sort of sat down. What do I want to do? What does this community need? You know, what can I bring to the community? Because I’m just a business person, anyway, I happened to be at Blackbird Bakery and I saw this building and I was so curious about it,” Rodgers said. “I mean, as cheesy as that sounds. It really is as if the building had found me. I wasn’t really looking for it, but I’ve always wanted to have a wedding venue, so it made sense to me when I looked at this building. I thought this must be a wedding venue. Nothing else really makes sense.
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Post 33 Venue and Speakeasy is divided into three sections. The central hall will serve as the main space for weddings and events, with Boutique 33 to be set up near the entrance of the building and in the basement a speakeasy.
The speakeasy was not part of Rodgers’ original business plan until she discovered that an entire bar, which was originally the old station bar, was set up downstairs. Of course, her husband immediately offered to turn the space into a sports bar, an idea she quickly dismissed.
“I was surprised it was here. I didn’t expect it and had no intention of owning a bar,” Rodgers said. “My husband, of course, being a man, said, ‘Let’s do a sports bar.’ No, we don’t do a sports bar because it doesn’t work. So what’s different than no one else does? Because I didn’t want to directly compete with someone else’s business. What could be added to that, you know, for downtown and for that area, would that be an asset, not just another thing? And so I thought that really made sense as a speakeasy.
Currently, Rodgers is awaiting liquor license approval. The license has been delayed several times and is the last of the paperwork needed before the speakeasy opens to the public, ideally over Halloween weekend.
“I should have that next week. I’ve been saying that for three weeks. So that was my biggest challenge, the bureaucracy with the license,” Rodgers said. “Other than that, it was really a lot of work, but nothing really stuck. It’s just an investment of time and trying to put everything together.
The Old Post 33 will have its own in-house wedding planner and coordinator, as well as a chef from Johnson City, Tennessee with whom Rogers is currently in negotiations to take over the kitchen. The chef will also provide catering for weddings, brunch and lunch from Monday to Friday, as well as sushi for the speakeasy.
Business picks up quickly for Rodgers and Old Post 33 in December, with the wedding venue set to host its first series of monthly 90-minute pop-up weddings, as well as a Bristol Grinchmas event planned for the kids upstairs and for adults in the speakeasy.
“Believe in Bristol is having a private event downstairs on October 28. We’re having a Halloween party upstairs on Saturday the 29th, and then we’re having pop-up weddings, which are basically five micro-weddings in one day, so it’s going to be fun,” Rodgers said. “In December we’re going to do a Whoville spin-off, which is called Bristolville Grinchmas, and we’ve got a couple of college drama students coming in to play those roles, and we’re going to have a kids program upstairs, and then downstairs we’ll have a Grinch villain in the speakeasy.
Rodgers was surprised by the reception from other downtown business owners.
“Everyone in this community has been really great. I mean, I’ve lived in different states. I’ve had different companies and I’ve never really had that kind of cohesion,” Rodgers said. “They’ve been really fantastic in embracing me and embracing the concept of this new business and just having a lot of interaction and having people step in and say, how can I help you? It was pretty awesome.
The Old Post 33 venue is open and accepting event reservations. Once the liquor license is approved for the speakeasy, it will be open weekdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.