Sonny’s Cocktail Joint Opens on South Street and Features Expertly Made Cocktails, Throwback Vibes, & House Band!
Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico announce the grand opening of Sonnys Cocktail Joint at 1508 South Street this Friday, August 6th at 5:00pm. The new feel-good laid back neighborhood bar and covered backyard is located next to Wine Dive and one block from Tio Flores. Sonnys will feature expertly made cocktails, New Age American eats, Instagram-ready throwback vibes, a house band, and even a classic jukebox. From the kitchen, Chef D. DeMarco will fire up inventive plays on the classics with food that would be considered high end if it weren’t so down to earth. For the drink program, look for an extensive list of well-executed cocktails for cocktail lovers from every walk of life, along with a tightly curated list of wines, and 14 beers pouring on draft. For vibes, look for welcoming, warm and comforting throwback elements like checkered floors, vinyl, textured glass, vintage beer art, thrift purchases, a jukebox, and an old school fridge. Sonnys is casual, no pressure, and no reservations. Opening hours for now will be Wednesday to Saturday, from 5:00pm to 2:00am, with kitchen hours 5:00pm to 12:00am.
“Sonnys Cocktail Joint is a bar for everyone where your glass is always full,” said Fetfatzes. “As professionals in the industry, we craved a watering hole that had quality cocktails without judgment, so we created one. The resulting highbrow/lowbrow bar offers an array of seriously crave-able food from Chef D. DeMarco and ever-evolving innovative beverages. With a strong focus on craft spirits and cocktails, Sonnys offers a little something for all — from Hawthorne Cafe’s deep craft beer roots and branching out to a small but thoughtful all natural wine program curated by Wine Dive’s Jeffrey Hyman. Real people serving real drinks, Sonnys Cocktail Joint is everyone’s bar.”
When it opens this weekend, Sonnys will replace The Cambridge on South Street. The Cambridge closed temporarily during the first shut-down of the pandemic. As the team began to prepare for reopening, they realized they wanted to move in a different direction. The response to the newly opened Wine Dive was so positive, and the pandemic was taxing on everyone’s spirits, so the owners decided to change course and create something new and unexpected.
“The pandemic afforded us time and space to step back and evaluate what we wanted moving forward,” said Fetfatzes. “In a weird way, being closed gave us the gift of time, which is something you never get in the hospitality industry. We had over a year to properly conceptualize a bar that had an eclectic personality and comfort with great cocktails and a creative food program. And one that was super fun. Over the last year we’ve been able to take our time and build on the energy of Wine Dive to create this new space with a fantastic team that we’re all really proud of. Were there challenges? You better believe it. But the project brought us together and we are so proud of what we have all done together.”
For the name and inspiration for the personality of Sonnys, the owners kept it close to home. Sonnys is a nod to Fetfatzes’ mom, Olimpia Fetfatzes.
“My mom growing up was nicknamed Sonny and she was as real as they come. She had the charm to light up a room and at the same time burn it down. She worked her tail off, was a lady who always had her nails done but at the same time not afraid to get her hands dirty. While growing up she was called fila which translates loosely to Sonny in English. She got into ice pick fights defending her hotdog cart location when she first migrated to Philly from Portugal, she was also a mom who no matter when always had a hot meal for us while working 12-16 hour days. She wanted nothing but her kids to strive for the highest heights, take no bull but have respect for everyone all at the same time. She is Sonny.”
For vision and direction, Fetfatzes and Annechiarico wanted to continue on the journey they started with Wine Dive – but take it up a notch. They wanted to take the classic elements of a classic dive bar and raise the bar with an entirely fresh and new experience. They decided early on this would not be another Wine Dive but with cocktails, or a classic sticky dive bar from decades ago. This would be a new breed of neighborhood bar that is the best of all worlds, created for people just like them. It would be for all the Sonnys out there.
“We wanted to take the best of what people know as a neighborhood bar (the casual atmosphere, the low pressure atmosphere, the come-as-you-are attitude) and pair with with expertly made cocktails, a banging menu, a bad a#$ chef and amazing vibes,” said Fetfatzes.
Sonnys’ bar program features something for everyone, from the novice to the cocktail expert. No matter the drink, the focus is on well-done execution, freshness and creativity.
Guided by Fetfatzes’ vision of a bar for everyone, Sonny’s cocktail program is an enthusiastic collision of worlds from Japanese highballs to Mezcal, tiki to molecular mixology, and everything in between. He said, “We’re fostering a team of craft bartenders who truly want to do it all, who know their cocktail history without getting stuck in the past. At the end of the day, customers need to know we have them covered with well-made drinks done right so they can just simply come in and enjoy – and let us do our thing and show our passion.”
For the bar program, Fetfatzes has trusted Beverage Manager Jordan Gulick with the keys to the kingdom and the opening drink menu. Gulick has a full team of craft bartenders that are all a part of the creative process.
Behind the bar, Sonnys will feature a European custom draft system broken into 10 draft carbonated cocktails and 14 beer drafts. For beer selections, customers will find a mix of the best examples of beers styles from classic imports to new age American craft boundary pushing breweries to classic everyday selections. For wine, Sonnys will feature a small but focused natural wine list curated by Jeffrey Hyman of Wine Dive, with 8 wines by the glass or by the bottle. Additionally, Sonnys will carry hard seltzer’s , ciders and a deep offering of small batch spirits.
Sonnys is proud to introduce Executive Chef D. DeMarco, who brings a wealth of experience from their work with LPNG Restaurant Group (American Sardine, Second District Brewing Company and South Philly Taproom), where they started as a Sous and quickly worked up to Culinary Director. Chef was known as Doreen (she/her) while working for LPNG, and Chef is now transitioning and at this stage of the process is using D. and they/them.
Chef hails from Willingboro, New Jersey in Burlington County, where they spent their childhood in kitchens next to their father, who was a chef. They started answering phones and the more they worked with their father, the more their passion for cooking grew. Chef moved to Philly at 19, and worked under some great chefs. They loved traveling and checking out new restaurants and quickly found they had an unquenchable thirst for new flavors and inventive cuisine.
“We reached out to D. because we love their food and style, and we hoped they would believe in what we were trying to do with Sonnys,” said Fetfatzes. “We hit it off immediately. Our vision and attitudes aligned right from the start, and here we are ready to open our doors!”
Chef and the kitchen team are firing up a full from-scratch menu that features New Age American Cuisine – which is more fun, quirky and accessible than typical New American. The dishes are designed to be inventive plays on the classics – where each item leaves guests wanting another cocktail (or two).
Chef said, “We want the menu at Sonnys to continue to push boundaries of creativity. We want to bring highbrow food down to earth. Our constant theme will be approachable, fun and fresh.”
For the design of the opening menu, Chef took the cocktails and beverage program as inspiration to build a complimentary food program. The end result featuresa unique collection of dishes that elevate bar fare to the next level, with Crab Roll, Steak Tartare Grilled Cheese, Fresh Oysters, Chicharrón with Caviar and French Onion Dip, Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms and more.
The opening menu features a lot of vegetarian options, with some vegan and gluten free options. Chef is well known for their vegan cooking, and down the road additional vegan options are in the works to be added.
Chef is sourcing locally to support area purveyors, including ingredients from Rineer Farms Beef, Fifer Orchards, Demeters Source, The Pickle Man and more.
Sonnys was renovated top to bottom – for both design, efficiency and safety. Inside, look for seating for 50+ guests in 2,500 square feet of space in the bar, lounge and dining room. Outside, on South Street, look for sidewalk and streetry seating for up to 50 guests. In the covered and eclectic backyard and patio, look for seating for around another 40 guests. For private events, Sonnys can hold up to 200 guests cocktail style.
Sonnys comes complete with throwback vibes from a yesteryear or two ago – with inspiration coming from Fetfatzes’ childhood growing up in Jersey. From the Birds, to Garfield glasses, to iconic pieces of Philly folklore, Sonnys is where you can step back in time but not miss a beat.
The welcoming aesthetic was selected to exude warmth, comfort and individuality. The space was transformed from top to bottom, both on the inside and out in the backyard. Design elements include checkered floors, vinyl, eclectic tiles, textured glass, vintage beer art, orange glow lighting, custom banquettes, vintage palates, textured walls, living plants, Philly memorabilia, thrift purchases, a jukebox, and an old school fridge. For colors, Sonnys features warm shades of black, white, greys, pops of orange and yellow. Artwork was sourced by local artists, thrifting and drunken online shopping.
Fetfatzes said, “We were inspired by the comfort of throwback bars and old school VFW’s that have zero pretense. We wanted to create a space where guests can enjoy a Pacifico or highlife side by side with highly technical, thoughtfully created cocktails. We sourced from thrift shops, vintage stores, yard sales, neighbors basements, and drunken online shopping.”
Interior design was executed by Fetfatzes, with Anne White of AGW Interiors, who is known for her work with Wine Dive, Blume, Tradesman’s, Leda and the Swan and SET NoLibs.
Sonnys comes complete with a new outdoor wonderland filled with hidden gems from this and past decades, with elements that are fun, warm and inviting. The backyard was designed to be Instagram and TikTok ready, but without being forced. It is a place where customers can lose track of time and escape the city pressures.
For the transformation of the backyard patio, Sonnys features a covered clear roof, ceiling fans, throw rugs, curated mix-match seating, eclectic artwork, vintage collectibles, vintage soulful posters, living plants and flowers, and other surprises.