You know how TGI Fridays boasts “In here, it’s always Friday” in ads for the restaurant chain? In Beetle House, the Tim Burton-themed restaurant in New York’s East Village, the motto is “It’s Halloween all year long.”
Advantage: Beetle House.
The restaurant pays tribute to the quirky creator of “Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and his gothic-heavy film catalog. It should be noted, however, that Beetle House is not affiliated with Burton. The disclaimer on the website describes Beetle House as an “artistic adaptation.”
Burton fans have taken a strong interest in this adaptation, which will celebrate its one year anniversary in the spring. Some have even made reservations months in advance due to the limited seating.
“Tim Burton has such a huge fanbase,” said Beetle House co-owner Zach Neil, by email. “From ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ to ‘Big Fish,’ he can appeal to so many different kinds of people. … People are coming from different countries just for the restaurant.”
If you’re planning a trip to Beetle House or are just curious about what it’s like in the Burton-inspired restaurant (and really, how could you not be?), here’s what you should know:
Décor and ambiance
When it comes to the look and feel of the place, picture Tim Burton meets, well, Tim Burton. After all, this is a restaurant dedicated to the Goth icon. The place is dark, both literally and figuratively (you may need to pull out your phone to read the blood-stained menu). Film scores by Burton partner-in-crime Danny Elfman play over the speakers. The walls are decorated with rotating, original artwork inspired by Burton and actual props from his films. Neil revealed on the restaurant’s Facebook page that the décor behind the bar alone, including a 7-foot “here lies Betelgeuse” tombstone, is worth over $50,000.
It’s not exactly dinner and a show, but the Burton-related characters who work the room at Beetle House on certain nights, including Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and, of course, Beetlejuice, set out to entertain. The latter appears mostly on weekends and, judging by Beetle House reviews, is a real crowd pleaser, giving the ghoulish greaseball made famous by Michael Keaton a more adult comedic edge.
If you go to a theme restaurant, you want theme food, right? Beetle House doesn’t disappoint, loading its food and drink menu with Burton-references. There’s the Edward Burger Hands, which was featured on ABC’s “World News Now,” a Mad Shrimp dish that is lit on fire, wings that come in flavors such as Hello Alice (sweet chipotle) and Our Veruca (salted honey garlic) and a Big Fish Bowl with Swedish fish candy inside it. Expect New York prices at Beetle House, but unlike fellow New York horror restaurant Jekyll and Hyde Club, there is no $3 entertainment fee on your bill.
Reservations are accepted for dining and highly recommended, especially since there are only about a dozen tables or so. You can’t say you weren’t warned. A credit card is required and will be charged $25 if reservations aren’t canceled at least 24 hours in advance. The bar area, which also is limited on seating, is first come, first serve.
Once the Will Ferrell-themed Stay Classy was up and running in New York, Neil and co-owner and best friend Brian Link turned their attention to another theme restaurant (Stay Classy closed after 18 months in December and is now touring the country as a pop up restaurant). Neil and Link are both big fans of Burton and decided to give him the theme restaurant treatment next, complete with a cosplay touch. “He has not stopped by yet,” Neil said of Burton. “We want him to. It would mean a lot to us if he came. This is all in dedication to his work.”
Address: 308 E. 6th Street, New York, NY