Photos by Heidi M. Rolf, provided by The Spotted Owl
Hearing that Spotted Owl is opening up this fall might sound familiar to you — they opened their Akron location for the first time in October 2019.
A few short months later, they, along with everyone else, had to shut their doors for much of 2020 because of COVID-19. This summer, they’re open for drinks on the Twin Palms-themed patio, with some limited seating indoors. This fall they are, once again, opening up for full Spotted Owl bar service.
Spotted Owl is an upscale yet playful cocktail bar that originally opened in Tremont in 2014. They quickly earned local notoriety for their off-beat, wheel-shaped menu, and for their reliably high-quality preparation and presentation of each and every drink served.
The second location of Spotted Owl is in the elegantly remodeled Old Firehouse #3, on the corner of Crosby & Maple in West Hill. The open space features a long bar framed by a leafy green mural, velvety booths, sultry lighting, an exposed cooking space and a roll-up door that opens up to a gated patio.
Like the comfortable, stylish decor inside, everything at the Spotted Owl is on-brand. The cocktails are top-notch — the thoughtfulness and precision that went into recipe development and is obvious with each sip. At the same time, the menu is accessible to all types of drinkers and non-drinkers, and the bartenders and servers are ready and willing to help you out if you’re unfamiliar with any of the offerings.
Emily Dee, general manager at Spotted Owl in Akron, loves her job.
Everyone who works at Spotted Owl is guaranteed $15 an hour thanks to a 20% service fee on all checks. (Servers and bartenders keep any additional tips left on top of the fee.)
According to Dee, the culture at Spotted Owl is one of respect, stability, growth and creative freedom.
“We talk a lot about being fulfilled by the work,” Dee says. “Everyone who works at Spotted Owl is encouraged to explore their creativity and use the job as an opportunity for personal growth.”
Dee also credits owner Will Hollingsworth, who kept in touch with the team and has been supportive of everyone’s individual comfort zones throughout the shutdown.
One example of Hollingsworth’s attention to inclusion and sensitivity is the concept for Spotted Owl’s summer patio Twin Palms. Instead of reopening the indoor bar for pre-COVID-style service, Hollingsworth and his team opted to open the patio and feature cocktails that are packaged as kits that can be enjoyed on-premise, taken home, or even given as gifts.
Twin Palms is a baby step towards normalcy at the Spotted Owl, designed to celebrate lifted restrictions while still offering quality options for anyone who isn’t ready to be out yet.
The cocktail menu at Twin Palms, created by Dee, offers an impressive collection of colorful cocktails that all invoke that lazy, bougie vacation feeling you get by the pool in Las Vegas. The lineup has some elevated favorites — a French 75 with orange blossom water, a daiquiri with fried pineapple syrup, and a margarita with smoked salt and champagne. More adventurous drinkers might be drawn to the Rosewater Julep with its Garam Masala spice, or the purple Chicha Morada, inspired by ancient Amazonian brewing techniques. The nonalcoholic Jungle Bird ensures everyone can take part in the experience.
The next step will be opening the indoor space for full service this fall.
Even though they opened this space once before, “everything is different this time around,” Dee says.
My visits to Twin Palms tell me that not quite everything is different this time around. Hollingsworth, Dee, and the rest of the team want us to see Spotted Owl as a friendly neighborhood bar, where folks go to share big ideas, discuss issues and enjoy amazing cocktails.
Twin Palms at Spotted Owl is open Wednesday-Saturday, 4 pm-10 pm.
Emily Anderson is on Instagram @ladybeerdrinker
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