As Clevelanders move into holiday mode, making plans with friends and family for holiday get-togethers, the Lake Effects Pop-Up Holiday Bar has returned this season for its second year at the Kimpton Schofield Hotel in downtown Cleveland.
Lindsey Neidus and Mia Sakai, co-founders of SEA (Spaces, Experiences, Activations), started Lake Effects last year to create a holiday experience for those who live, work, and visit downtown Cleveland—with a philanthropic twist.
Last year’s pop-up, open from Thanksgiving until New Year’s, was so successful that Neidus and Sakai decided to launch it again this year.
“We didn’t know if we were going to do it this year,” Neidus says. Last year, they hosted more than 5,000 guests and raised $2,000 for Shoes and Clothes for Kids. “We had people ask us if we were going to do it again. I think the city just really enjoyed it.”
This year’s Lake Effect opened Friday, Nov. 29, and will again be open through New Year’s Eve. The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays) for individuals, small groups, and company holiday parties. “We’re getting a lot of interest in holiday parties and happy hours,” says Neidus.
Lake Effects is once again working with Parker’s Downtown to provide snacks, while Neidus says they partnered with Saucy Brew Works to brew its Sleigh What white India pale ale specifically for Lake Effects. The bar will also serve a full cocktail selection, national-brand beer, and wine.
Neidus and Sakai will donate $1 for every beer sold to Breakthrough Schools.
Neidus says she and Sakai have been putting in 14-hour days for the past month to create the Lake Effects bar out of the raw space in the Kimpton, 2000 East Ninth St., at Euclid Avenue. The transformation is in what Neidus calls a “deconstructed house,” complete with a living room, dining room, parlor, den, and indoor back yard."
“Last year, the theme was nostalgic, midcentury modern,” she says. “This year, we based the concept around going home for the holidays.”
Each room is painted in a different monochrome color scheme, says Neidus—for instance, the dining room is done in teal, the den in blue, the parlor in pink—and guests enter the bar through false front steps surrounded by house siding, and a fake front door. A purple foam wall is adorned with old-fashioned phones and says, “Just calling to wish you happy holidays from Cleveland.”
Neidus says they put down artificial turf for the back yard and covered picnic tables with the bright green grassy material. “It’s out of control over here,” she says. “We’re providing an experiential experience.”
And Neidus indeed promises an experience. “There’s not a bad seat in the place,” she says. “You can go into a different room [each visit] and have a totally different experience."
Passers-by have been commenting on the transformation, as Lake Effects has become its own holiday landmark downtown, Neidus says. “It’s a lot to look at, [especially] at night—it’s all lit up and has curb appeal. We’ve gotten such a good reaction.”
Lake Effects is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To book a holiday party, email Neidus.