A Springfield native and Northwestern High graduate, Waters and husband Clayton Horrighs, the Speakeasy executive chef, were living in Charleston, S.C., and decided to return here after her aunt, Kim Frazier, purchased the Nifty 50s bar in 2018. She had a plan to tease the menu as the kitchen was being installed.
“We talked about it a lot and did a lot of home prep and rolled out one or two dishes a week,” she said.
The marketing plan resulted in people from Springfield, Dayton, Columbus and even Cleveland coming to Speakeasy. The word spread so well that Yelp reviews determined Speakeasy as the Top Ramen in Ohio in 2020.
“We developed a whole following and still get new users every day,” Waters said.
While Waters and Horrighs like to change up the menu and offer new items and specials frequently, she said the standout is the Tonkotsu Ramen, which starts with a bone marrow broth that takes three days to prepare with pork belly, soy and other items.
There’s also the JFC Taco, a Japanese fried chicken with ginger soy sauce and other unique ingredients, and Waters has heard the Shrimp Rangoon called the best in town.
The bar is still an essential part of Speakeasy with a wide selection of offerings using craft syrups in many of its drinks, led by the signature Lemon Lavender Martini and popular Island Mule.
Being far from the many chain and fast-food restaurants has helped Speakeasy stand apart in more than just its menu. Waters likes the mom-and-pop style.
While the COVID-19 pandemic could’ve damaged Speakeasy’s chances, the restaurant built its take-out operation, and the people responded.
“The community was looking out for us,” Waters said.
Now with the success of Speakeasy, Frazier is looking to try yet another variation on the brand in expanding to Troy. Miso, which is named for a soybean-based Japanese soup, will open in a former furniture store near Moeller Brew Barn downtown. The venue will feature more broth-based choices as well as ramen and sushi, although on a much bigger scale, according to Waters, who was not able to give a timeframe as to an opening.
Waters can also see Speakeasy expanding to new locations here with fast, casual style of its dishes.
Speakeasy is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday.