Passersby on East Olive Way will see  a typical neighborhood delicatessen. Open what appears to be the door to a walk-in cooler, and that’s the start down the rabbit hole.

After much hype, By The Pound Delicatessen has opened in Capitol Hill, in the former Bleu Bistro Grotto space at 1801 E. Olive Way.

The deli space is fairly small, offering meats, cheeses and salads by the pound, with four soups made in-house daily. Sandwiches feature Macrina breads and Zoe’s Meats, with names like Thanksgiving on a Bun, The Pacino and Unfigandbrielievable. Lots of food pics are available on By The Pound's Facebook page.

By The Pound co-owner Sean Majors is proud of the design of the deli and the hidden bar, which some circles refer to as Justice Bar.

It’s not a speakeasy, Majors says, but people do need to reserve one of the few currently available tables, and will eventually need to give employees at the deli counter with the provided password of the day.

“The idea is they kind of police that concept, and then you also get your ID checked by one of the bartenders,” Majors said.

Patrons walking through the cooler door will almost immediately be surrounded by cultural figures that make up the wallpaper of the hidden bar. The concept is creating a safe cultural space, Majors said, and the walls are an homage to those figures in literature, art, music, philosophy and film.

“I had to look for it all on the internet, and when you look for it in large format, it becomes more difficult,” he said of the images on the walls.

Next to the three booths in the hidden bar are built-in bookshelves, with plenty of literature customers are free to peruse while they wait for a cocktail and food from the deli or a separate bar menu that includes charcuterie, baked wings, candied bacon with spiced butterscotch and sliders.

By The Pound is part of the F2T Hospitality restaurant group — F2T standing for farm-to-table — which opened craft cocktail bar Alchemy in West Seattle back in May.

Chef Larkin Young designed the menus, while chef Chris Jensen has been leading on-the-ground training, Majors said. The two chefs are also F2T Hospitality co-owners.

It’s a craft cocktail bar to a point, Majors said, but people can still grab a $3 Tecate or Rainier. The goal is to make the space a neighborhood hangout that feels welcoming to everyone, Majors said.

The cocktail names are also playful and based on figures both real and imagined, such as the Calico Jack, named after a pirate who was one of the first to include women in his crew, Majors said. Then there’s the Redbone, named after a Childish Gambino song, and the Ren McCormick, a bacon-fat washed bourbon drink with the same name as Kevin Bacon’s character in “Footloose.” Majors said one of the most popular drinks is the Chihiro, which is the name of the lead character from Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.”

Majors spent a lot of time working in Capitol Hill in his younger days, and went to Seattle Central College in the mid-90s. He has a masters in philosophy, while F2T Hospitality co-owner Shahin Olyaie majored in political science.

“The staff have been telling a lot of ‘A political science major and philosopher walk into a bar’ jokes,” Majors said.

That political focus on activism and civil rights will be reflected in the design of The Red Room, which is still under construction. This second hidden space will include a 9-by-5-foot oak table that can sit a group of friends or activists. The Red Room has another wall motif, with newspaper prints of famous civil rights leaders mixed in with some not so well-known activists from history.

“We wanted it to be a very strong feel in this room,” Majors said, “even though it’s a very warm, smaller room. We want you to feel like you’re in a revolutionary meeting of some kind.”

From The Red Room, up a spiraling metal staircase, will be The Green Room, which is expected to open in early 2018. It pays tribute to contributors to science, technology and exploration, continuing the theme of old newspapers on the walls. People will find Alan Turing next to Buzz Aldrin, next to Leonardo DaVinci (there’s also an Italian sandwich named after him at By The Pound).

“It was really, really, really tough,” Majors said. “It was my first buildout.”

Majors credits the team behind him for making his visions for By The Pound a reality.

People wanting to hang out in the hidden bar are being directed to reserve a space on OpenTable up until 10 p.m., at which point it’s first-come, first-served.

The deli is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., while the bar is open 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays, and until 4 a.m. on weekends.