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Visions of sugarplums (and spiked eggnog) have been dancing in our heads ever since we heard rumor of a Christmas-themed bar popping up somewhere in Wilmington. Now, our holiday dreams are coming true. Blitzen opens Thursday on 9th Street (just off Market). Behind the project: A who’s who of Wilmington movers and shakers, include Rob Herrera (who owns the building), Dan Sheridan (who will be providing revelers with bar noshes from the neighboring Faire) … and creative mastermind Dallas Shaw, a Wilmington-based fashion illustrator and designer brand maven. We caught up with Dallas and Blitzen creative assistant Rebecca Parsons to learn more…
Dallas: “It’s called Blitzen. And instead of just being a holiday bar, the concept is that you’re being invited into his den, into his home. And if you really look around and pay attention, you can get a sense of his life and how he feels about always being the last reindeer on Santa’s list.”
“We started this whole project just a few weeks ago. Most of my clients tend to be based in New York – some in California – and they keep me traveling. It wasn’t until recently that I really made a decision to be a part of what’s happening in Delaware, and put some design roots down here. So I went to my closest friends here and said, ‘Hey, I want to design a Christmas pop-up. Wanna do it with me?’”
Rebecca: “Everyone wants to be a part of it.”
Dallas: “It really does feel like a weird Christmas-spirity Hallmark movie around here.”
Rebecca: “I’ve had people reach out on social media, wanting to be bartenders.”
Dallas: “We’ve been in that space every day for the past two and a half weeks, and people have come in off the streets, asking what we’re doing. We’ve been super shocked at how much help we’ve gotten from friends, family and the surrounding businesses, just helping to make it happen.”
“Keeping it quiet on purpose and getting the word out late, that was a risk. But I got into the car this morning – on the way from buying an extension cord for Blitzen – and they were talking about it on the radio. I’m just thrilled everyone is so excited.”
Rebecca: “Something like this, when it’s a pop-up, it creates a sense of urgency. It’s going to end by the end of the year. It’s not like, well, maybe we’ll go in a couple months. No. You need to come to this bar now.”
Dallas: “I’ve had people literally say they’re coming Friday with one group of people and then Saturday with another group of people. I think we’ve created something where we feel like you’ll want to come, and you’ll want to come back.”
The News Journal article that came out on Monday got quite a reaction online. Could you respond to some of the comments? Like, how do you feel about the number of people planning to come wearing their reindeer pajamas?
Rebecca: “We fully support that.”
A few people called you “geniuses.”
Rebecca: “We’ll also allow that.”
And one person wrote: “Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday, but this is a bar that really speaks to me.”
Rebecca: “That’s great, because it’s more than just a bar. It’s a story. Dallas put together this awesome story. It’s something anyone can connect to.”
Dallas: “If they’re that excited about it now, then I can’t wait to see their reaction when they actually step into the space.”
“People have been asking us: ‘Why did you put so much design effort into a place that’s only open for a month?’ That’s the best question we could ever be asked.”
“I had visited a lot of other pop ups and concept restaurants. I’ve never been to one that wasn’t a good time. It’s always for a good cause or hosted by someone who is doing really authentic things in the design industry. I think that’s what people expect.”
So why bring this concept here?
Dallas: “I love what’s happening in Wilmington. I love everything that’s going on downtown and around Market Street. It just felt like it was the right time … and after this, I’m hoping that I can work on a concept that isn’t just a month and a half long. But this is a really great way for me to get my feet wet in Delaware.”
Blitzen opens its doors at 4pm Thursday, Nov. 7. They plan to be open Wednesdays through Saturdays throughout the season, and expect to return to the North Pole sometime before 2020.