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Shhh… Shim’s is still (sort of) a secret

Date:

Ever wondered what the secret ingredient is to opening a successful bar? Well, it may just be the secret itself.

Speakeasies are still a rarity in Reno, while other large metropolitan areas are crawling with them by now. But the lack of the trendy what’s-old-is-new-again bars somehow makes the experience all that more unique.

Speakeasies became popular in the 1920s on the heels of prohibition, when alcohol was outlawed and residents created hideaways to get their fix. Each was housed in an unsuspecting place, without signage, so you had to know what you were looking for in order to find it.

Here, bootleg gin and other spirits were doled out to those in-the-know, and it’s perhaps that

same feeling of knowing something others don’t that have kept speakeasies thriving.

Shim’s Surplus Supplies Speakeasy follows the century-old trend. The 1920s style bar is

accessed through a back alley entrance through a weathered grey utility door that reads “Shim’s Deliveries Only.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the streetside storefront, which displays a variety of goods, isn’t a storefront at all, but rather a front for the building’s other activities.

Enter through the back—and try to convince yourself you are not breaking and entering—and you’ll quickly be transported to another era. Modern technology and costume won’t be on the premises, where bartenders don suspenders and other garb of the 1920s.

The entire vibe of the place feels historic and swanky, with a large marble bar and crystal glassware. Even the social media pages evoke the character of the time period, helping everything feel authentic even though it decidedly isn’t.

Curtain-lined booths offering extra privacy and an air of mystery are available in limited quantities where guests can sip dirty martinis and whiskey sours.

Shim’s is also known for weekly events. A busy social calendar offers everything from open mic poetry and live jazz music (without a cover) to the more modern DJ trivia on Sundays. 

This month, they’ll also be participating in the Reno Wine Walk on March 18.

While many now know—after nearly four years in business—about the speakeasy, the owners behind it (including Zachary Cage who also has ties to Brewer’s Cabinet, Old Bridge pub and Sierra Taphouse) didn’t blow it up on purpose. Instead, they’ve enjoyed a steady stream of clientele garnered through word of mouth and Google searches.

Want to experience the nostalgia for yourself? Enter the alley at 3 rd Street and slip in. The bar is open from 5 p.m. to midnight daily, except on Fridays and Saturdays when doors stay open until 1 a.m.

If you want to enjoy a discount, come during happy hour from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Monday through

Friday.

Inside Shim's Surplus speakeasy in Reno. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno.
Inside Shim’s Surplus speakeasy in Reno. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno.

Details

775-384-6039

125 W. 3rd St., Reno, Nevada

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.

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