South Osborne speakeasy

Blind Tiger brings back concept from the prohibition era

Blind Tiger Coffee Company on Osborne Street.

Daniel Crump

Inside the restaurant at Blind Tiger.

Daniel Crump

Making coffee.

Daniel Crump

Inside the restaurant at Blind Tiger.

Daniel Crump

Barristas Calvin and Meghan.

Daniel Crump

Blind Tiger latte.

Daniel Crump

Calvin, a barrista at Blind Tiger preparing a latte

Daniel Crump

Blind Tiger, a new restaurant on Osborne St., aims to take guests back on a nostalgic trip to the 1920s. 

It’s one of the newest additions on the South Osborne strip and is – at the moment – the first true speakeasy experience in Winnipeg.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term “speakeasy,” Jack Moslehi, the principal owner of the establishment, explains. 

“You’d walk to a secret door and you’d whisper, or ‘speak easy,’” he says. “You wouldn’t ask people, ‘where can I find a speakeasy restaurant?’ You would say to people, ‘hey, do you know where I could find a blind tiger?’” 

Speakeasy restaurants date back to the 1920s when the prohibition era was enforced in the United States of America. 

During that time in the U.S., it was illegal to sell alcohol and some businesses took it upon themselves to sell cheaply-made alcohol to consumers under the veil of being a legitimate business, like a coffee shop.

Moslehi says he’s glad to have picked the South Osborne location for Winnipeg’s ‘first’ true speakeasy. 

“We’ve always thought that location was incredible. It’s a beautiful neighbourhood and the people in the area are so friendly and supporting of the area. During the construction of Blind Tiger we had numerous people from the area pop in and show us so much love and support,” Moslehi adds.

Moslehi calls himself a “serial entrepreneur” and he also owns a nightclub, 441 Main. 

When entering the building at Blind Tiger, it feels like walking inside a closet because of how small the coffee shop is.

However, if you ask the barista/host to get into the restaurant, a secret door opens up. Behind the secret door is a dining area that seats 86 patrons. 

Blind Tiger wants to be a secret restaurant and judging by the dark decor and covered-up windows, it’s living up to that expectation. 

Moslehi’s team took a long time gathering decor that feels like it’s from a bygone era. 

“It took months and months of going around to old barns, old farms, antique dealers to gather the decor for the new establishment,” Moslehi says.

While The Uniter toured Blind Tiger, staff were busy trying to put everything together for a soft opening on the Halloween weekend. 

Blind Tiger has an open kitchen and staff that is passionate about providing a unique dining experience for guests. 

“The open kitchen concept has been something that I always find very sexy. It’s so nice to be able to watch people creating dishes for you and to see the hustle and bustle – it just adds to the ambience,” Moslehi says.

Sticking to the 1920s concept, Blind Tiger will offer French-influenced food.

“In the 1920s, French-inspired food was a big hit and it was very trendy back then and we thought we’d play with that a little bit,” Moslehi says.

“I would hope that it would be a mix of food, atmosphere, service and the unique concept that draws guests to Blind Tiger,” he says. 

The coffee shop section of Blind Tiger opens November 2, while the adjoining restaurant opens November 6. 

It’s no secret any more: you can find Blind Tiger at 725 Osborne St.

Published in Volume 70, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 5, 2015)

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