It’s been a few years since the popular holiday pop-up bar Tinsel first opened its doors in Philly. The crowds of people flooding to Teddy Sourias’ Christmas wonderland of a venue even prompted Craft Concepts Group to open a Halloween themed bar in the same venue (Nightmare Before Tinsel) a year later and then the complimentary Day of the Dead themed eatery, Sueño this year. But 2020 is going to be run a bit differently for the original Tinsel than it has in years passed. For starters, there will be strict health and safety guidelines to be followed per the latest order of the city just a few weeks ago.
The menu will still follow the same beat as it has in years passed with crafts beers and specialty cocktails served out of ornaments, boots and snow globes, and food coming from the new sister restaurant next door, Sueño. Sueño is meant to be a celebration of the Mexican holiday with inspired decor, original art pieces from some of the region’s top artists, plus a menu that features traditional and fusion Mexican cuisine by Executive Chef Caroline Hough (which includes a new taco board featuring plenty of proteins and toppings.) The new eatery will also boast Puerto Rican-style empanadas from Tata’s Empanadas, margaritas and cocktails, and an extensive list of tequilas. In addition, there will also be some added treats being offered at Tinsel from Craft Concept Group’s ghost kitchens as well. Atmosphere wise the outdoor “streetery” will be spreading the holiday cheer through a new snow machine, twinkling light display, other added decorations, plus heat lamps and wind guards for when the weather outside gets frightful. In all, the pop-up will takeover the outside of Tinsel, Finn McCools, Sueno and Go Popcorn.
The theme for this year is set in Santa’s Workshop and the Christmas Cottage. According to the release, Sourias, with help from Anne White of AGW Interiors, have created a new experience this year that starts inside a very active, bustling and colorful Santa’s Workshop. Holiday-goers are then invited to the Christmas Cottage for a photo in front of Santa’s grand throne and there will be “special guests”along the way including Santa, Mrs. Claus, a giant Gingerbread Man, a Toy Soldier and other familiar faces. This year will also feature some Christmas villains – with custom artwork by local artist Scott Johnston who pays tribute to the Christmas Gremlin (Spike), Krampus, Snow Miser, Winter Warlock, Jack Skellington, Heat Miser and White Walker (from Game of Thrones). Philadelphians can then take the back exit down Candy Cane Alley and find themselves transported back to Philadelphia by way of Samson Street.
“While the current times are dark and gloomy, Tinsel 2020 is just the opposite. Covered wall to wall with dazzling lights and Christmas decor, Tinsel exudes a happy cheer, much needed for all this year,” said Craft Concepts Group owner Teddy Sourias in a statement. “Tinsel is an annual tradition that is as much Philly as Christmas Village, the Macy’s Christmas Light Show and the Comcast Holiday Spectacular. It was important to open this year so that we can celebrate the holidays with everyone in a new, safe and socially-distanced way.
“There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel and we need to hold onto things that are positive and forward-facing. If you are comfortable and in Center City, we invite you to stop by and say Merry Christmas. If you are staying at home, or not able to join us, we will be back and better than ever in 2021 when you are ready. Either way, we are thankful for the support this year for me and my staff of over 300 employees — and we wish one and all a happy holiday!”
Celebrating the holidays can also do some good, canned good that is. The popular Canned Good Cocktail will return with a portion of the proceeds going to feed furloughed workers out of a job due to the government shutdown of indoor dining. Tables are first come, first served for Tinsel and Sueno’s Christmas-themed streetery, and for health and safety, all guests must wear masks unless they are at a table, with absolutely no exceptions.
Additional safety protocols include staff temperature checks, QR code menus, socially distanced tables, new cleaning procedures, time limits, and other new systems. Tinsel will also update health and safety protocols to be in compliance with local and state health regulations.
“Don’t leave home for Tinsel without your mask,” added Sourias. “Masks are 100% required and have been the new normal for Tinsel and all of our properties in 2020. Wearing a mask is something we should all be used to now. Make a mask wearing fun and festive — and get into the Christmas spirit with holiday themes. But no matter what your mask style, don’t be a Karen Claus and show up without one.”
For more about Tinsel, visit TinselPhilly on Instagram.