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Oxford Inn Opens Speakeasy Space for TV Cameras

The Lock & Key, a new speakeasy-style bar at the Oxford Inn, will be featured in a brand new reality TV show on the Food Network.

Visitors to the Lock & Key bar had to know the secret word to get into the renovated space of the Oxford Inn on Saturday night.

A knock on a new rear entrance door and uttering the words "absinthe minded" got you in the "speakeasy" as cameras rolled for the Food Network.

"We're doing a reveal," said Oxford Inn owner Bob Higgins, as he waited to see renovations to the west room of his establishment for a brand new reality TV show, which makes over struggling bars, called "On the Rocks."

Higgins has been trying to figure out a way to pick up sales from 8 p.m. to close for some time. In January, he played with the idea of changing the name of his Main Street eatery to Bobby's Nashville Bar and Grill.

He made some minor changes to the interior, including replacing carpeting with hardwood flooring and painting walls, and not much more. In May, he lamented to Patch that "the country thing" really hurt his business.

While Higgins was figuring out what his next steps would be, the opportunity to be a part of the new reality TV show came up.

Higgins said Saturday he was pleased with the "speakeasy" makeover and its menu, which includes Vodka Poached Shrimp Cocktail, The Devil's Eggs, Roaring Rib Board, Raw Oysters, Lock & Key Frites and Flapper Girl Apple Pie. Speakeasy libations include The Green Fairy, which is absinthe served the traditional way with an absinthe spoon, a sugar cube and iced water.

If you want to see the makeover, you'll have to stop by the Lock & Key at the Oxford Inn or wait to see "On the Rocks" on the Food Network, most likely in December or January.

Please note, the Oxford Inn still serves your favorite food! The makeover was to one room only.

The Oxford Inn and Lock & Key are located at 1214 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-543-5619.
Judy Davids (Editor) July 22, 2013 at 09:20 AM
Did anyone go? What did you think? I stopped by briefly and split a slice of Flapper Girl Apple Pie with my husband and it was delicious. Congrats to Bob and family on the makeover. Can't wait to see you on TV!
Janet Ann July 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM
I am not usually the kind of gal who comments on things outside of Facebook, but I feel passionately about my city and about Metro Detroit as a whole, so I just can't help myself. I am 32-year-old young professional who dines out frequently and does a lot of socializing in the Royal Oak, Ferndale and Detroit area. The people in charge of this reality show should be strongly admonished. Why? Because to be totally candid, the young hip and actually "cool" (read, not the people who frequent places like Woody's or Blackfinn) in the area will NOT patronize this bar. Clearly, they did not perform any market research. About a mile away, The Oakland, open and successful for several years, is already running as a craft cocktail, prohibition-style bar. Bastone recently re-branded their basement bar as "Craft" another craft cocktail, speak-easy style bar. The owners of 212, on Fifth are considering turning their basement into a "speak easy". Downtown, you can go to Sugar House, which is incredible or Cafe D'Mongo's which is as close to the real thing as you can get in this town. Quite frankly, The Lock and Key is like the Applebee's of this genre and "Flapper Girl Apple Pie" sounds like something a TGI Fridays would serve during "Roaring 20s Week". I don't care how good anything there tastes, too late to jump on a band wagon is simply too late. This looks silly, like it's trying too hard and waaaay behind the 8 ball on trends. I apologize for being so harsh, but if anyone had taken a moment to look around, they'd have noticed that the artistic revolution in Detroit is moving LIGHTENING fast and the cool kids don't want that canned crap anymore. In short? Nice try.
Rock-Q July 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Kudos to the Oxford Inn. Everyone there from the hostess, waitresses, all the way to the manager are always welcoming and friendly. It's our go to place for a good burger, fish, ribs, and their house salad is delicious. Much prefer this local restaurant to any chain.
Mark Itall July 22, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Janet Ann, It's okay, no one likes the "cool" kids except themselves. We all had more than enough of that snotty, self-obsessed type growing up. That said, the rest of your comments are probably spot on.
Jack Manning July 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM
This establishment can't seem to settle down. Appears there is still some confusion as to where it is going or what is going on there. When it finally settles down, let me know what surfaces.
Bob July 23, 2013 at 08:58 AM
Mark Itall, exactly. The self professed "cool kids" are generally quite the opposite. Although, I must admit, that I have always found the Oxford Inn totally lame. Neither the food nor the atmosphere have ever impressed me.
Carme July 28, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Too funny cool kids.
The Ferndalian November 03, 2013 at 12:35 AM
This bar has been around for 25+ years and used to be great. They just keep getting worse as time goes on. Both the food and the atmosphere are lackluster and not what you'd expect for the inflated prices. Obviously management isn't as passionate about the place as they used to be. These cheesy gimmicks will be the downfall of the Oxford. Or whatever they're calling themselves these days.
Easydude November 22, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Last fall, there was a rumor that the Oxford Inn was changing its menu to a southern menu. I decided three months later, it was the same. Two weeks ago, it was the same. The food is still the same and the floors have been cleaned. Its a nice place with good food too bad the change did not take place.

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