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Downtown Fort Worth speakeasy’s $4M renovation adds cigar lounge, event space

Renovations at Thompson’s Bookstore is complete — adding a cigar lounge, event space and substantial cosmetic improvements to its street level bar and basement speakeasy lounge.

The downtown Fort Worth joint is back to serving cocktails after a year of work.

“All the people that have been holding out and waiting for the renovations, come on back,” Thompson’s general manager Alden Aldrich said. “We’re ready.”

The street level bar was open throughout the renovations, but now the entire building is open for business, including the underground speakeasy.

The bar that first opened in 2015 at 900 Houston St. was named after the former bookstore that used to operate in the building from 1972 to 1993.The Vybeck building that houses the business was built in 1910 and originally operated as a pharmacy.

The third floor at Thompson’s Bookstore is now a cigar lounge, with a full bar attached.
The third floor at Thompson’s Bookstore is now a cigar lounge, with a full bar attached. Brayden Garcia

What $4M of renovations added to the Thompson’s Bookstore lounge in Fort Worth

The $4 million renovations included structural and cosmetic changes in each of the four floors of Thompson’s, Aldrich told the Star-Telegram:

While the speakeasy and ground floor bar have operated at Thompson’s before, the cigar lounge and expanded event space are new.

The newly expanded event space will now be marketed to local businesses and visiting groups as a good place to hold gatherings. With the Fort Worth Convention Center just down the road, Aldrich said, they will ramp up advertising of the space.

Where the cigar lounge is now used to be a gym and even rented out as an apartment.Aldrich hopes the cigar lounge open’s the bar up to a new crowd. He said he has seen an increase in patrons coming earlier in the day solely to smoke.

“That’s bringing out people that previously had their pick of places, but for booze only,” Aldrich said. “Now they can pick us for cigars as well.”

Renovating the historic building uses spaces inside that were sitting empty, and now patrons are coming back in full swing, according to Aldrich.

The bar hosted a ticketed grand reopening in late July to showcase the new look, which had a solid turnout, Aldrich said. The old regulars are starting to show up again and the cigar lounge is seeing plenty of new faces.

“Really happy that people stuck it out and came back to check it out after it’s all open,” Aldrich said. “It was a long process.”

Hours of the Thompson’s Bookstore lounge and speakeasy bar

This story was originally published August 9, 2023, 8:14 AM.

Brayden Garcia is a service journalism reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2020, where he worked at the student newspaper, The Shorthorn. He previously covered education at The Dallas Morning News.
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