At the moment, Perestroika is just a Facebook page with photos of pretty drinks and provocatively posed Russian women.
But in the dreams of Boise architect David Thompson, Perestroika is much more: A “spy bar” with a secret bar and a hidden entrance, Soviet-themed décor, 70 brands of vodka and a walk-in freezer with ice furniture.
Perestroika means “red” in Russian and a synonym for “beautiful,” according to Thompson’s business plan. It also has ties to the Communist Party in Russia.
Thompson, 50, has spent a year tinkering with the concept, honing the interior design and promoting the business on Facebook, where the bar’s page has more than 800 likes.
What he doesn’t have is a site, a liquor license or the $730,000 he said he needs to fund the project.
Thompson hopes to raise money through crowd-funding website indiegogo.com starting Sept. 14.
He pegs his chances at “pretty slim.”
"It’s difficult to raise the amount of money I’m going for,” Thompson said. “But some people have raised horrendous amounts of money. It’s possible.”
Thompson works in the design department for Steed Construction, a commercial construction company in Eagle. He crafted his idea around vodka, the most popular liquor — especially among women, who Thompson said are the lifeblood of any successful bar.
Thompson contacted Shaun Daugherty, author of the bartending book “Extra Dry, With a Twist,” to create a fancy cocktail menu that would appeal to women. Thompson modeled the speakeasy idea after some of his favorite haunts with unmarked doors in Reno, where he lived in the 1980s.
“That’s the idea behind the speakeasy — that it has cachet,” Thompson said. “(The location) gets around by word of mouth and generates its own publicity.”
While not common, unmarked bars operate around the country, usually in large cities. Unmarked bars are legal in Idaho provided their liquor licenses and operating permits are in order, said Lt. Russ Wheatley of the Idaho State Police Alcohol Beverage Control.
Vodka first became popular in Russia and other Slavic countries. The Facebook page imagery harkens to cold-war era propaganda. And women. If the bar has room for a dance floor, he plans to call it “Red Square.”
Thompson said he used to worry that the Soviet theme could generate backlash, but he’s received only positive feedback.
“I was concerned early on because Idaho is such a red state, Thompson said. “But I think this appeals to everybody. To people on the left, maybe hanging out in a Soviet bar would be (thumbing their noses) at mainstream, conservative culture. At the same time, for people on the right, I’m using Soviet and communist imagery and iconography for a capitalist enterprise. It’s kind of a slap in the face to Lenin and all that.”
Thompson has spent little on his idea except time honing his business plan. He’s paid about $200 to promote his Facebook page and posts, and a couple hundred more on research books and his online domain name.
The concept needs crowd-funding to work. That means thousands of people who like the spy bar idea must go to indiegogo.com and donate money. Thompson offers perks to donors, including merchandise, drinks and parties at the bar, and — of course — the secret address.
Thompson said he hopes to raise at least 51 percent through crowd-funding by Nov. 14, when the online campaign ends. He thinks he could raise the rest through loans and investors.
“If people respond and we raise a lot of money, that encourages investors to jump on, and banks will loan you money. If it fizzles, then that’s a good way to find out.”
Some crowd-funding campaigns debit donors’ accounts only if the goal is reached. Thompson said his campaign won’t be goal-fixed, and that he’ll keep whatever contributions he receives if he doesn’t meet the goal. If he doesn’t raise enough to pursue loans or investments, he might roll the money into a second crowd-funding campaign. If the campaign raises only a small sum, Thompson said he would throw a party for his contributors or send them T-shirts.