Thea Mercouffer has never been a drinker, yet she is preparing to open her first bar in Long Beach. She has worked as a documentary filmmaker and explored numerous art mediums throughout her life. Now, she’s using 2332 Pacific Ave. as her canvas.
Mercouffer and her husband George Wolfe have spent months working with general manager Christian Warren to open the doors to The Wicked Wolf, which will host its grand opening on Wednesday.
Wrigley’s first themed bar has invoked some well-deserved rubbernecking from those passing through the neighborhood.
“We’re going for a romantic living room in the forest,” Mercouffer told the Post.
Once Chimbas Sports Bar, the space has been wholly transformed from its former aesthetic. When Mercouffer, who calls herself a “real estate foster mom,” first saw the property, she immediately suspected there may be some magic lurking beneath its divey dust.
“To me it looked like a cottage in the woods, like Hansel and Gretel,” she said. “We just thought of fairy tales.”
After coming across an illustration of a feminized wolf by storyboard artist Angelina “Spikie” Ricardo, the story around the wolf of Wrigley started to unfold. That whimsical concept isn’t likely to be lost on those who wander in to see dangling vines above velvet Victorian sofas and a large illustration of the wolf herself above the bar.
Ricardo’s wolf isn’t the sleuth villain of Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs. Instead, the illustration presented a “feminine force,” Mercouffer said.
“[We’re] reclaiming the wolf idea from that lecherous male to the empowering female,” she said.
So, Mercouffer purchased the rights to Ricardo’s piece and started foraging platforms like Craigslist for charming furniture pieces fit for a Victorian wolf’s living room, she said.
Ahead of opening day, Mercouffer says she’s been overwhelmed with positive feedback from Wrigley residents and Long Beachers curious about the new cocktail lounge.
“We’re starting to call it the Long Beach effect,” Mercouffer said. “People are not just friendly, they’re connected.”
For the grand opening on Wednesday, Mercouffer said she received an astonishing amount of RSVPs, about 600, so she’s been scrambling to break folks into time blocks for the opening evening, which will kick off for the public at 7:30 p.m.
Beyond the bar, beer, wine and the usual spirits you’d expect will be offered, there are fabled elixirs like absinthe and a lineup of cocktails with names like “Ginderella,” “Poison Lips” and “Once Upon A Lime.”
But The Wicked Wolf’s cocktail menu also includes an equally extensive roster of mocktails, non-alcoholic wine and beer. The mocktails all include zero proof spirits, to give those who wish to abstain from alcohol the “same bite” that a traditional cocktail has, Mercouffer says.
“I’m not really a drinker, but I thought if I could create a community space and an art space, then I’m OK with running a bar that has a really strong mocktail menu for people like me,” she said.
Mercouffer admits she doesn’t know a whole lot about alcohol, which is why she recruited Warren, co-owner of Melody Bar in Los Angeles, to help create the Wolf’s cocktail menu.
“It’s a fun journey for me to really feel the place, the energy and the vibe,” Warren said. “It’s going to be a lot of cocktails or classic cocktails done our way, as well as fresh fruit-forward cocktails and martinis.”
LGBTQ-centric events, poetry nights, DJs, art galleries, play readings, live jazz bands, swing dancing, what have you—Mercouffer’s motive from the beginning was to conjure up something of an intimate melting pot for creatives.
“We want to be a home for artists,” she said.
The Wicked Wolf at 2332 Pacific Ave. opens to the public on Wednesday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. RSVP here. Then, the cocktail lounge will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.