In 2018, wildly popular east side neighborhood bar Nickel City went viral by transforming into Moe’s Tavern from the animated sitcom The Simpsons. Starting Friday, October 25, the bar is bringing the pop-up back — and it's more extra than ever.
Co-owner Travis Tober tells CultureMap that the popularity of last year's pop-up was a surprise. The activation became an overnight sensation, with mentions on Fox News, CNN, and in the Los Angeles Times.
"We didn’t expect it blow up so huge last year," he says. "It ended up being ... a story on all news outlets and seen in so many countries. Even today, if you Google Moe’s Tavern, Nickel City pops up in the first 10 images."
The team decided up the ante for 2019, starting with the building’s facade. As with last year, the signage has changed and the windows are wrapped to mimic Moe’s distinctive stained glass. Next door, J & J Spirits is dressing up as The Android's Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop, run by the series’ infamous Comic Book Guy.
Meanwhile, the Delray Cafe food truck will step in as Springfield’s favorite fast-food joint, Krusty Burger. Not to be outdone, Nickel City’s back bar, Cash Only, which regularly hosts pop-ups from visiting bartenders, will serve as the Springfield DMV.
Tober says the bar will also be brimming with selfie opportunities. The Simpson family couch sits out front for impromptu sight gags, and the bar built a replica of Moe’s Tavern’s Love Tester. A chalkboard will help patrons work off detention, and a red phone will be available for prank calls.
"Last year we put it together in two weeks, so a few things were rushed," explains Tober. "This year we’re going down the Simpsons wormhole. Hopefully everyone will enjoy the fun of one of the best shows of all time!"
The Nickel City bar menu and Delray Cafe food menu are refreshed for the 2019 activation. On the snacks side, the Krusty Burger is joined by new items like the plant-based Mother Nature Burger and Barney’s Fried Bologna, an interpretation of the famous fried bologna sandwich from New Orleans’ restaurant Turkey and the Wolf.
"The fried bologna is ridiculous," Tober says.
In addition to last year's favorites like Squishees, Duff beer, and Flaming Moes, Nickel City has added a high-ball section with choices like the whiskey-based Cletus Sparkler; Scotch sipper Groundskeeper Willie; and Mr. Sparkle with Roku gin, celery, and peach bitters.
All will be adorned with specially designed garnishes. Callie Speer from Holy Roller will also be making a limited amount of doughnuts each day to accompany the Malk Punch.
Moe’s Tavern takes over Nickel City through November 3. Simpsons fans are advised to check it out sooner than later — the can’t-miss swag is only available in limited quantities.