SOUTHINGTON — Diners at Cava will step into four different worlds this holiday season as part of the restaurant’s annual Christmas experience, featuring themes from popular movies such as “Harry Potter” and “Frozen.”
“They’re amazed,” said Tony Papahristou, Cava manager, of the response to the decorations and lights. “We definitely added a little more than last year.”
The magic starts outside with a curtain of lights draped over the entrance and continues in the foyer with more lights, ornaments and garland.
“To really get you into that winter wonderland spirit,” Papahristou said.
Over 100,000 lights, more than 20,000 ornaments and thousands of feet of garland make up the entire experience. It is the eleventh year the restaurant has done the holiday display.
Different dining areas, including the bar, are decorated to represent individual holiday-inspired themes.
“When something clicks you just kind of go with it,” Papahristou said.
The process starts in September – themes are mapped out and decorations are ordered. Decorating begins in October. Everything is complete by Thanksgiving.
Papahristou said the restaurant spent around $20,000 on new decorations this year.
The most requested theme from diners so far has been Harry Potter. The wizard world is represented through the Hogwarts house and “Gryffindor” – with red and gold decor complete with floating candles, owls, and even a sorting hat.
Next door is “The Phantom of the Opera” with a handmade chandelier dripping in jewels and lights to represent the chandelier that falls in the show. A custom-made portrait of the protagonist Christine and the phantom hangs above the mantle watching guests dine below.
Other rooms include a purple under-the-sea “Ursula” theme complete with floating bubble ornaments to represent the villain of “The Little Mermaid” and a ice inspired bar with hanging icicles and a white Christmas tree designed after the movie Frozen.
“I think it’s the complete package, you get your whole holiday feel with all of the decor and the drinks like the hot cocoa,” said Alyssa Babon, a bartender at Cava for the last five years.
Babon is starting to make the Cava Hot Chocolate, a winter drink special, which consists of a marshmallow that is lit on fire in front of diners for a s’more twist.
“It’s warm, it’s cozy and it kind of brings the whole feeling of the holidays together,” she said.
Another popular drink guests can get at the Frozen-styled bar area is a selfie or image printed martini. Printed in a machine, an edible image is placed on top of a foamy pumpkin martini.
Guests can use pictures of themselves or pick from a selection of holiday images like snowflakes and candy canes.
A complete winter and holiday cocktail list will be available starting Dec.1.
“The famous tree outside,” Papahristou said of the only holiday feature that has stayed the same for the last decade. “We make sure that’s complete so everyone knows that it’s done inside.”
The decorations are expected to stay up through mid-February. The experience officially kicks off today.
More information can be found by calling 860-628-2282