It’s not every day that a gal gets a bar named after her. Then again, Eleanor Seale is not just any gal. She’s the de-facto mom and controller for the team behind Muss & Turner’s and Local 3. For Ryan Turner, Todd Mussman, Chris Hall, and Chris Talley, Eleanor Seale is not only a treasured friend, confidant, and drinking buddy, she’s an integral part of their success story. So, when the idea of expanding Muss & Turner’s to make room for a neighborhood cocktail bar, it seemed only fitting that Eleanor be the muse.
Having worked with ai3 to design the space for Local 3, the entrepreneurial three, joined by Chris Talley, returned to their designers to create a vision for Eleanor’s. As it is, Eleanor’s personal story reveals a woman of many talents. She’s a skilled cook, a wine and bourbon connoisseur, and a savvy businesswoman. Originally from New York City, Eleanor has managed several businesses, among them a liquor store seated beneath the New York’s 59th Street Bridge. It’s this chapter of Eleanor’s story that inspired the team to envision Eleanor’s as a New York style speakeasy — dark, gritty, and all but hidden from those who don’t know to look for it.
This Smyrna speakeasy is a true backroom saloon, a quality that makes Eleanor’s feel private and special for those who find it. Though no password is required, the entrance is concealed as a walk-in cooler in the back of Muss & Turner’s. On the other side of that metal cooler door is a dimly lit hallway that turns a corner to expose the speakeasy itself. Once inside the bar, the atmosphere is deep and dark, a composition in rough-hewn wood, metal, and leather with plenty of liquor and wine bottles in the mix.
Though dark and mysterious, the interior of Eleanor’s is a simple space, with the bar serving as the dominant feature. While enjoying craft beers and sipping cocktails, guests can peer into Muss & Turner’s through one-way mirrors at the back bar, concealed in the M&T café by decorative, vintage frames. Behind Guests of the bar, cocktail nooks are finished with darkly painted walls and a chunky wood chair rail that flips down to provide a hidden drink rail and collage of vintage mirrors, begging the question, “If I’m looking in on Muss & Turner’s, who’s looking in on me?” The private dining room shares many of these elements though the décor is simplified. Recessed lights cast a warm, but sparse glow through the room, lighting a large communal table made of dark lacquered wood and a large oriental rug underfoot providing a punch of vivid color and texture.