Sal's Italian Eatery & Speakeasy

Angela Henderson-Bentley

Prohibition may have ended in 1933, but in the heart of downtown Ashland, the era of bootlegging and gangsters is still very much alive and well.

Sal’s Italian Eatery and Speakeasy, located at 1624 Carter Ave. in Ashland, is a traditional, New York-style, Italian restaurant, fashioned as a 1920s/1930s speakeasy.

“It’s more than just a restaurant. It’s an experience,” co-owner Billy Bare said. “You’re not just eating dinner, you’re submerged in New York City in the ‘20s or ‘30s.”

A speakeasy was a bar where alcoholic beverages were illegally sold during Prohibition. The bars received their name from bartenders who requested that patrons “speak easy” while inside the bars to make it more difficult for police to locate them.

Billy and Christy Bare, who also own Bombshells and Ales in Ashland as well as Bombshells and BBQ in Huntington, were not looking to open another restaurant. But they saw an opportunity to use the space as a catering hub for their Ashland event venue, The Union on Carter. Billy Bare wanted to go with a mobster theme to tie in with their Bare Arms indoor gun ranges.

“We did a lot of research for the Prohibition-era theme,” Christy Bare said. “We knew there was nothing like that around here.”

The trip back in time begins immediately as guests are greeted with a 1920s style bakery and led through a secret speakeasy door. The servers dress in the style of the era and many of the cocktails served have names from the time like Bee’s Knees and Fizzy Flapper. Watching over the speakeasy is Sal, a mobster character created by the Bares, whose photo hangs on the wall. For a special added touch, a 1930s Chevrolet is parked outside. The car has already become a popular spot for special occasion photos such as prom and senior pictures.

To match the mobster theme, Sal’s provides fine Italian dining featuring authentic Italian dishes such as chicken marsala and spaghetti and meatballs, and treats like cannolis and cream horns. Sal’s offers a bourbon flight to allow guests to sample its more than 140 bourbons. The bananas foster dessert is also popular with the servers lighting the dessert tableside.

The restaurant has been a hit since it opened in April 2022. “People come once and then they want to come every weekend,” Billy Bare said. “It’s the vibe the place gives off.”

Sal’s offers additional touches, including a patio, live music every Friday and Saturday, and murder mysteries once a month.  

“We try to bring things that are unique here. Normally, people would have to go to Lexington or Columbus for something like this,” Billy Bare said. “We’ve lived in Ashland for more than 30 years. It’s really our home. We want to try to add to the flavor of Ashland. We love it here and we want people to come here.”

To learn more about Sal’s, visit or visit their page on Facebook.