“Philadelphia, your new Nightmare is ready” reads the first line of a press release about Nightmare Before Tinsel, a Halloween pop-up bar back for its second season in Midtown Village. Did you need another nightmare this year?
The pop-up, opening Friday night, is from restaurant owner Teddy Sourias, who started using the space (116 S. 12th Street) for a limited-time Christmas bar called Tinsel before he added the Halloween hours. Both go over-the-top in terms of decor, but at least the Christmas one involves Santa and stuff. Nightmare, on the other hand, is embracing an asylum/spooooky mental health hospital theme, which gets to both make light of the traumatic experiences of real people (as Philly Mag already pointed out) and use a hospital as a “fun” setting during a pandemic.
On the plus side, Nightmare is ticketed this year, so Sourias can control how many people are in the small indoor space at once. Tickets cost $15 to $20, depending on the day, and include access to the haunted house and “one food and one drink item,” served outside at a sidewalk table or via a takeout window. Eating inside at Sourias’s Finn McCools next door is also an option. The logistics seem a little messy.
Inside, a dark corridor leads to a “cobweb-infested patient intake area,” followed by a laboratory with doctors operating on patients in presumably gruesome ways, and a threat of being sent for “shock therapy,” which is a real thing people go through. Next up is the children’s ward of the hospital. Whee! There’s also an electric chair, which is hopefully sanitized frequently, located in the dedicated selfie area. Masks are required throughout.
Nightmare is slated to run through the end of the month. Meanwhile, Sourias, who is not Mexican, is also getting ready to open Sueno, his Day of the Dead–themed restaurant next door that will supply the food for Nightmare when it’s up and running (Nightmare/Tinsel is set between Sueno and Finn McCools.) It’s not a Halloween pop-up, since it will likely stay open until at least the end of the year — it’s just a regular restaurant using an element of someone else’s culture for decor.
“Sueño” means “dream.”