For students 21 and over looking to spend St. Patrick’s Day at the sleaziest bar in town, Paddy’s Pub would be the ideal destination — if it were real.
Luckily, the arcade bar Replay Lincoln Park (2833 N. Sheffield Ave.) is giving fans of the hit FXX TV series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” the next best thing: a pop-up bar modeled after the show’s fictional bar.
The bar is connected to a downstairs arcade and has hosted many other pop-ups recently, modeled after shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Rick and Morty.” However, while those pop-ups remained open for a few weeks, this latest “Always Sunny”-themed bar will only run through March 18.
The PHOENIX sat down with the Replay’s owner Mark Kwiatkowski to talk about the inspiration behind the Paddy’s Pub pop-up and its potential future.
“I’ve been doing these pop-ups for a little bit, and so many people have been bending my ear … people either texting me or Facebook messaging me [with ideas],” Kwiatkowski said. “Paddy’s was definitely mentioned … And finally it dawned on me: I have to do this for St. Patrick’s Day.”
Kwiatkowski, 45, and a handful of local artists worked hard to incorporate as many references to “Always Sunny” into the pop-up as possible. The walls are covered in framed photos that depict well-known scenes from the show, as well as re-creations of props from popular episodes such as “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System” and “Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack.” There’s a pool table and a small foosball table like the ones in the fictional Paddy’s Pub, in addition to delightful fan art curated by Kwiatkowski hanging on one wall. The themed cocktails being served all pay homage to the show — there’s the coffee-and-cream flavored “Fight Milk,” the simple but delicious cola-and-bourbon combo “Wolf Cola” and the almost alarming “Riot Punch,” served in a 64-ounce milk jug.
“Always Sunny” fans have been flocking to the bar in droves since it opened March 9, according to Kwiatkowski. He said he knew the bar would be popular, but not nearly as popular as it’s proven to be.
“We had people lined up and winding around the building on our first night,” Kwiatkowski said. “The fans are so passionate. I know it’s a very well-regarded show, but I didn’t know they would come out in such numbers. Thousands of people have already come through to visit.”
It’s no wonder why. There’s enough easter eggs crammed into the Paddy’s Pub pop-up to keep even the most knowledgeable fan of “Always Sunny” amused for hours. From the recreated wall stain that vaguely resembles the Virgin Mary, to an inflatable raft and a fake ham hanging from the ceiling, even the most casual viewer will be able to catch at least one reference. There’s also plenty of Philadelphia Eagles logos scattered around to celebrate the team’s recent Super Bowl win.
Besides visual references to “Always Sunny,” Replay Lincoln Park will be hosting events related to the show all week. One is a “flip-cup” tournament called “Flipadelphia” on St. Patrick’s Day, which 64 teams are signed up for. On March 18, the bar will host “Nightman Electric Dream Machine” — a parody performance of the infamous musical production, “The Nightman Cometh,” from the fourth season of “Always Sunny.” Kwiatkowski said the first 100 tickets sold within hours.
“One of the artists who helped execute [the bar’s decor] is also a musician, and he and I got to talking,” Kwiatkowski said. “I said, ‘Is there something we can do with [“The Nightman Cometh”]? He got all excited about it, and he wrote a show. And the response had been insane … We’re contemplating doing a second show.”
Kwiatkowski said he’s expecting madness in his bar on St. Patrick’s Day. The pop-up will open at 10 a.m. and remain open until at least 3 a.m. the next morning.
“We already have 200-some people reserved for the 10 o’clock opening, and not everyone is going to reserve,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s probably going to be a long line all day long, but it’ll be fun.”
Will Paddy’s Pub ever return to Chicago once its 2018 stay is over? Kwiatkowski said it might. He received permission from Fox Entertainment Group to use intellectual property from “Always Sunny” for the duration of the unofficial Paddy’s Pub pop-up, and he said if he can get permission again, there’s a possibility it could be back for next St. Patrick’s Day.
Replay Lincoln Park’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” pop-up bar will be open until 2 a.m. March 13-16 and 18, and until 3 a.m. March 17. Hours are subject to change. To purchase tickets to “Nightman Electric Dream Machine,” visit Ticketbud.com. Tickets are $11.