Behind the Scenes of Winter Wonderland Pop-Up Celsius at Bryant Park


Stomaching Midtown is easier now that the majority of tourist hordes have dissipated post-holidays — and sometime before winter ends, it’s worth stopping by Celsius at Bryant Park (42nd Street and Sixth Avenue). The two-story snow white structure is a symbol of human ingenuity, which can be just as heartwarming as the traditional tree-lighting ceremony.

What began as a 1,500-square-foot tent meant to give tourists and locals a respite from the winter chill and the ice skating rink is now a brick-and-mortar pop-up — a structure complete with its own plumbing and electricity that’ll be dismantled in March. The bi-level restaurant and bar is the brainchild of development and hospitality firm Upsilon Ventures, perhaps the only organization capable of getting a Department of Buildings approval after 14 days of construction.

“At the beginning, we were really focused on setting up the experience, the artistic, holiday flare,” notes Sar Inbar, principal and executive director of business development at the firm, who is involved in the planning, oversight, and execution of Celsius as well as the Winter Village at Bryant Park. Not to mention giving people a place to eat and drink. But as time went on, the team realized that local foot traffic was continuously growing and a larger space was needed to appease the masses — a tent was no longer viable. And so plans were laid for a sturdier oasis: a 7,000-square-foot custom designed glass-enclosed structure that would serve as a completely functioning restaurant. “We were trying to integrate it as an organ within the overall organism within Winter Village,” says Inbar.

And while this is a temporary structure, Inbar says the key was in making it feel permanent: “Everything you touch, everything you feel is real.” Water is pumped in from the main line. The interior design is crafted to reflect the overall theme of the restaurant. The bathrooms are exactly what you’d find in any functioning business establishment. “God is in the details. In order to make sure everything ticks like a Swiss clock, no detail is too insignificant,” he says. It takes 15 days and nights to create the space.

The structure has undergone a few face lifts over the years, one of which enclosed its second level. And every year brings a change, whether it’s the decor, the food, or the cocktails. But thanks to its success — and ability to manage construction teams, regulatory agencies, and what the consumer wants — Upsilon has made a name for itself in designing holiday scenes. The firm is also involved in Prospect Park’s new ice skating attraction Lakeside.

Hit Celsius before it closes on March 2.