Throwback vibes are all the rave at Sonnys Cocktail Joint on South Street.
The brand new creation from restaurant power couple Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico replaces the former Cambridge at 1508 South St. and debuted on Aug. 6.
The grand opening allowed visitors to see just what Fetfatzes and Annechiarico cooked up to become the new next-door neighbor to their wildly popular Wine Dive. Of course, it was created to resemble a place where the owners themselves would love to let loose.
“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 … Real people serving real drinks, Sonnys Cocktail Joint is everyone’s bar.”
The former Cambridge closed temporarily during the first shutdown of the pandemic. As management contemplated reopening, it decided to move in a different direction. Next door’s Wine Dive was thriving so ownership decided to double down on the idea.
“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.”
Sonnys was actually named as an homage to Fetfatzes’ mother Olimpia Fetfatzes, a Portuguese immigrant who had the nickname Sonny.
“She was as real as they come,” Fetfatzes said. “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.”
You won’t have to know the actual Sonny to feel comfortable at Sonnys.
The new feel-good, laid-back neighborhood bar and covered backyard will feature expertly made cocktails, New Age American eats, Instagram-ready throwback vibes, a house band and even a classic jukebox.
The kitchen will be led by Chef D. DeMarco, a Willingboro, New Jersey native who is firing up a full from-scratch menu that features New Age American cuisine. Crab Rolls, Steak Tartare Grilled Cheese, Fresh Oysters, Chicharrón with Caviar and French Onion Dip and Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms are just some of the options. Vegetarian options, with some vegan and gluten-free options, are available.
“We want the menu at Sonnys to continue to push boundaries of creativity,” DeMarco said. “We want to bring highbrow food down to earth. Our constant theme will be approachable, fun and fresh.”
Drink menus include cocktails described as an enthusiastic collision of worlds from Japanese highballs to Mezcal, tiki to molecular mixology, and everything in between. There’s also a tightly curated list of wines, and 14 beers on draft.
“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,” Fetfatzes said. “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.”
The fully renovated 2,500-square-foot interior seats more than 50 guests and includes checkered floors, vinyl, textured glass, vintage beer art and plenty of thrift shop purchases. Additional seating is available outdoors on South Street and under a covered backyard and patio.
Sonnys will be open Wednesday to Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The kitchen closes at midnight.
“We were inspired by the comfort of throwback bars and old-school VFWs that have zero pretense,” Fetfatzes said.
“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.”