In our “Hidden Gems” article series, we take a look at and highlight some of the less-appreciated buildings, businesses, and more here in the Jacksonville area.
When passing by it on Adams Street, you’d never expect that the nondescript ground-floor unit of the W.A. Knight building labeled “JAX POST” is home to a busy cocktail bar – but then again, that’s kind of the point.
Behind the curtain – both metaphorically and literally – lies The Volstead, a bustling speakeasy-style cocktail bar and lounge located at 115 W. Adams Street in downtown Jacksonville. The bar takes its name from the Volstead Act, also known as the National Prohibition Act, which outlawed selling and manufacturing alcoholic beverages in the U.S. when it took effect in 1920. Its speakeasy concept harkens back to the Prohibition era in America when bars were forced to operate in secrecy out of fear of legal retribution.
Appropriately enough, the Marsh & Saxelbye-designed building in which it resides was built in the early ‘20s.
For seasoned downtown veterans, The Volstead is hardly “hidden,” but for those less in the know it could easily be overlooked – its seemingly-empty storefront implying that it’s just another in a sea of downtown vacancies.
The Volstead has served up a collection of classic and handcrafted cocktails – along with local, domestic, and import beer as well as wine – since opening its doors in 2013. Its original owners, Sam Linn and Alexa DiMiao, almost had to shut down the bar in 2017 due to health issues, but it was saved by Dana Chen and George Cunningham of Atlantic Beach’s Cheningham Realty who retained co-founder Matt Williams to maintain continuity.
To accommodate customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the bar has started offering to-go cocktails, 6-packs of beer, and wine packages available for purchase online. It recently reopened its doors at limited capacity but has continued its to-go sales for the time being.
Next time you’re passing by the W.A. Knight building and you see the “JAX POST” sign, take a peek behind the curtain. You might like what you find.