Unlocking the Secrets of a Florida Speakeasy

A classy speakeasy on the Central Florida coast shares its successes.

4 min read
Unlocking the Secrets of a Florida Speakeasy

By Pam Morales Worsham | For The Prep

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Forget Google Maps, you’ll need a library card and a sense of adventure to discover Lourdes Library, a hidden gem speakeasy tucked away in Central Florida’s Eau Gallie Arts District. 

Being a speakeasy, the entrance is inconspicuous, and the doors are elusive. 

Those who find the passage inside are welcomed by a librarian in the lobby. The librarian hands them a personalized library card with their name typed on a vintage manual typewriter, but only after successfully identifying the book of the week. This unveils the next hidden entry and extends an invitation to experience the immersive magic of that is Lourdes Library.

The opulent-designed concept bar is the brainchild of Veronica Lourdes Just and Sam Buzzell, hospitality veterans known for their other Brevard County local hangout The Salty Fox bar. Though successful with the Fox, the innovative duo had this inner fire to take on another unique venture in the service industry.

“We always knew that we wanted to do something completely different than our other bar, Salty Fox, which is more like a neighborhood bar. Then we found the right place to rent, where we could let our creation come to life,” said Just, who is married to Buzzell.

In late 2019, they embarked on realizing their dream. Buzzell and a close family friend dedicated nearly a year to the buildout and design, leaving no detail overlooked. The construction itself proved to be a challenging mammoth project, and when compounded with the onset of the pandemic, it became a tummy-churning pickle to deal with.

“2020 really stunk because we still had to pay the rent and all that stuff on the building without bringing in any revenue. We weren't even sure that we were going to be able to open our speakeasy because of COVID,” Just recalls.

But on January 20, 2022, Lourdes Library finally opened its doors. Well, sort of - it's a speakeasy after all.

Inside the Lourdes Library | Courtesy: Lourdes Library

To set the intimate and insider ambiance, Just and Buzzell adopted a meticulous approach to design, incorporating dim lighting and vintage furniture like marbled phone stands, tiled door entryways, and antique door hinges. And oh yeah, it is complete with an extensive collection of books — hundreds to be precise.

Lourdes Library, named after Just’s beloved late grandmother, recently marked its two-year anniversary, a significant milestone achieved through the dedication and collaborative efforts of the entire team. Our team at The Prep asked them a few questions about their success and here’s what they had to say:

Question: What is the hardest part of running a concept bar?

Just: I will say our biggest challenge has been our dress code. It's just wild. I'm like, why don't you want to dress nicely and go to a nice bar. And people’s feelings really get hurt when we have to turn them away because they're in a tank, swim trunks and flip flops. So now if they're not in dress code, we offer them a button up shirt or other clothing to put on.

Q: What is your best marketing tool?

Just: My favorite one right now is TikTok. The posts we have highlighting the events at the Library have done great. We have a social media manager that deals with all of that because we're just too busy to do it ourselves.

Q: What has been your favorite special event?

Just: I kind of go with what's popular or what's a hit. We did a “Vanderpump Rules” takeover night at the Library, with all the cocktails from the show. Everything was pink and very bougie, like Lisa Vanderpump. That was really cool. A lot of people came out for that.

Q: What key element is driving customer loyalty?

Just: The bartenders 100%, the bartenders. They’re the ones that create the cocktails. I don't go in there and say, hey, I want this going on the menu. It’s them. They go in monthly and do research and development. They try different things, and that's how we have the rotating menu.

It's in their mind. It's just endless in there. I've been in the service industry since I was 20, so that’s 20 years behind the bar. And for them to have more knowledge than me? I will step back. They have done nothing but made me proud.

Want to check out Lourdes Library for yourself? Head to their website or check them out on TikTok.