How to Make the Chesterfield Dallas' Best Bar

Categories: Drinking

ChesterfieldBar.jpg
I visited the Chesterfield when the bar first opened, and have been back a handful of times. Downtown's newest bar promises great drinks and a stylish space. And I want to love the place, I really do. But it's too crowded and too noisy at times, and I often feel lost in the shuffle when I drink there.

When the bar is quiet and you have your bartender's attention, the Chesterfield is a pleasure -- so much so that I think with some tweaks the place could be one of the country's better bars. Here's what they have to do to get there.

Fix the décor and feel
The massive windows up front let in too much light. A cocktail lounge should be dim and charming. Hang some massive floor-to-ceiling drapes at the front to seal the place in. Put candles everywhere and keep them lit. Play some music that invokes the appropriate period. Classic rock is cool, but this is a pre-Prohibition bar: less Zeppelin, more really old jazz and blues.

Fix the sound problem
Those drapes could help a ton. But there are lots of ways to dampen sound. With quiet music and hushed chatter, the Chesterfield will feel more sophisticated, secretive and swanky. Make this the sort of place where you lay low and whisper in your date's ear.

Fix the menus
It's good that the spiral-bound menus from Kinkos have been replaced, but things could be better. Get some cool leather-bound books to display your drink offering. Make the thing a real page turner that encourages exploration.

Control the crowd
I know this one is going to get me some flack, but I think it's the most important. This bar is way too busy, and the crowd kills the vibe. Put a door man out front and then enforce this rule: No entrance if there's not available seating.

Nobody wants to sit at the bar and drink a well-crafted cocktail while some hammerhead reaches over your shoulder to grab a dripping martini glass. Cocktails like this should be enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere. It's hard to relax with people eying your seat every time you get up to take a leak.

I know, I know. More customers equals more money and volume is paramount. But the drinks here are relatively cheap. Up the prices a little and keep the crowd down. Everyone who's drinking will have a better time. They'll talk about the place when they leave.

Right now the Chesterfield is just another mixology den in a city still trying to define its cocktail culture. If it did all these things, it would quickly become the best place to drink in Dallas.


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17 comments
Homedude11
Homedude11

I really love this place and I love Lucky and his staff.  The music seems to be a point of contention and I would agree that it is not always the appropriate mix.  I think I heard they are looking into it.  Interesting point on crowd control.  I think limiting it to seats only is not the right thing to do.  I do believe there is something to be said for a place with some standing patrons.  maybe a limit of 20 over seating capacity (insert appropriate number here).  I think controling that at the door is a great idea.  i don't have a problem witht he decor, in fact, I like it very much, and I have zero problem with the lighting.  I wish it were a "cleaner" back bar.  Not clean like, its dirty, but less clutter.  Lots of boxes and towels laying around, and that bugs me.  Overall, this has become one of my favorite Dallas places.

214 Cocksucker Lane
214 Cocksucker Lane

Oh, some of these comments are so inappropriate. Yes, the place has some work to do, but it has the potential to come into its own. It's really new folks, calm down. The one comment about Lucky being asshole is so wrong. From the beginning, Lucky has been solicitous, kind and well-mannered.

matt
matt

Lol, sounds exactly like my yelp rant. Nice job Scott

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

Aaaaaa if only bars were cool that we're cool. City Tavern was a great bar under the old owners, before profit got involved. Catering to the market and the market isn't very sophisticated.

"when you can no longer piss and get a drink, it ceases to be a bar"

Whitney Filloon
Whitney Filloon

Agreed, especially on the music and lighting.  The interior and the menu are classy, the rest of the elements need to match.  There was a guy sitting at the table next to me yesterday wearing track pants... Really?  I realize it's Friday lunch and all, but come on bro.

Bulleit
Bulleit

I completely agree. Chesterfield should install a system similar to PDT in NYC.  Take reservations for every seat in the bar.  If you show up without reservation, the hostess will take your phone number and call you if a seat opens. 

Nick
Nick

And the ability to use Tabbedout!

joeat
joeat

I agree the very corny fedora's need to go.  I totally disagree about the heavy drapes in the front.  To me, there is nothing worse than being in a dark bar on a beautiful day..  The old timers think this makes people drink more, just the opposite for me - I can't wait to get out of there. I am neutral on crowd control.  Am not sure I have ever been in a bar anywhere in the world that guaranteed a seat for every customer.

Bar Man
Bar Man

Sounds like they need to go to Inwood Lounge method of music - all vinyl all old jazz and blues

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

lets just redo the whole bar, I figured maybe 1 thing needed fixed, but to make it one of America's greatest, you are tyring to change the whole thing.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

As Yogi Berra once (supposedly) said, "That place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore."

Tomas
Tomas

Agree on all counts, especially the music and the crowd control.  Great post.

Kergo blows
Kergo blows

 You and that fedora, did someone bang your girlfriend?

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

I didn't say greatest. better. is there a difference? maybe

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

atleast my girlfriend is not a hipster asshole.......I don't need a hat(or a bit!) to make me relevant.

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