Roast the Dead Coffee in Yucaipa, California, opened this past February with spookily-themed drinks and photo ops littered throughout the shop. As the long line outside the establishment continued to grow, the shop’s Instagram account, @roast_the_dead_coffee, shared the progress of the store’s successful opening online. While this type of Halloween-themed shop is new to Yucaipa, it is not that new of a concept in Southern California.
Rad Coffee in Upland, California, opened its doors to the public a few years ago and even expanded to a second shop in Covina. Rad Coffee does take a different approach to the Halloween theme, however; its original “creepy” logo distinguishes itself from that of Roast the Dead Coffee, whose shop uses horror-themed characters.
Horror became popular in the 1920s, primarily in the form of book-to-film adaptations. It is believed that the genre is so popular with the new generation because its target audience is no longer scared of what’s happening in the movies; chainsaws and ski masks just aren’t as terrifying as they once were. Studies have also shown that fans of horror films are also more likely to show characteristics of high anxiety. During the pandemic and quarantine of 2020, anxiety levels skyrocketed, which also showed a correlating rise in the popularity of horror as a genre.
Even outside the pandemic, the idea of Halloween and horror as genres has always been popular. Horror movies come out all year long, and Halloween is such a beloved holiday that the whole month is dedicated to celebrating and preparing for it. In more recent years, stores have started to set up their own Halloween sections as early as September. The second October hits, so do the events and parties.
When it comes to these themed shops, however, Halloween never has to end and can last all year long. Both cafes also host pop-up events with vendors who dedicate their businesses to the spooky side of their crafts. The pop-ups have become so popular that lines form outside long before the doors are open.
While these shops are Halloween-themed and dedicate their decor to horror, there are also conventions that are fully committed to the season, with attendees dressing up in the name of the holiday spirit. Midsummer Scream, for example, is held every year in late July in Long Beach, California, and features horror vendors and small haunted mazes. The attendees, in spite of the summer heat, attend in full-blown Halloween costumes.
Halloween-themed stores and events aren’t exclusive to California, though; this May, a new cocktail bar by the name of Raven’s Manor opened in Portland, Oregon. The bar gained a lot of exposure through TikTok and markets itself as a truly haunted bar. TikTok user @theboxedhag posted a video of their visit to the bar in May, which has received over 48,000 likes. Some have even noted that the wait to enter can be up to two hours long. The bar not only serves horror-themed food and drinks but is available to book exhibitions and tours for a more authentically haunted experience.
In October 2019, a nightclub called Cocktails & Screams opened in Orlando. “We want you to be fully immersed in all the feelings Halloween brings you from the creepy to the comical,” wrote Bone Daddy on the nightclub’s website. While the nightclub was closed due to pandemic state regulations, they have opened back up as of Aug. 15 with limited hours following Florida’s new restrictions and guidelines. Each section of the bar is decked out with intricate Halloween designs and decorations, even dedicating parts of the bar to specific horror favorites like the “Addams Family.”
A pop-up Halloween theme bar just made its way to the ILL Minster Pub in Dallas and will only be open to patrons during the month of October. The ILL Minster Pub, which usually features its famous “Star Wars” statues, has decided to temporarily change its name to KILL Minster Pub and host a slasher pop-up this Halloween season. The bar will also feature horror movies every Monday night in October along with their new cocktail named the “Cereal Killer.”
In Denver, the Horror Bar has been renamed to Slashers Denver and reopened this August under new management. The bar features its own unique cocktails, and different movies are played on every TV in the bar. Slashers Denver also has a basement that is not yet open to the public but will soon host private events. The bar may also reveal some hidden secrets upon closer inspection.
While horror and Halloween are not interchangeable, they still go hand in hand. What can be considered horror is not always Halloween, and Halloween is not always something horror-related. Halloween is a holiday not only known for its fun and scares but also the opportunity it provides to escape from everyday life. Halloween is the day that people get to dress up and become their favorite characters. It’s also one of the reasons why Halloween events have been drawn out through the month of October. Each party or event lets people dress up as a new character, and themed shops give patrons an even better excuse to dress up and have fun throughout the year, instead of compressing all of their seasonal excitement into the month of October.
The question remains: With all of these new bars and cafes opening due to popular demand, will the shops continue to see a boom in business as they have thus far? Considering that Halloween’s popularity has only risen in the past years, the likelihood of these businesses staying busy is very high. Social media will always be a great help in spreading the word about what’s new, and while some trends may die, the highly marketed holiday will continue to surge. As old customers pass through, the next generation of Halloween and horror fans will surely take their place.
Even if more cafes, shops, bars and conventions appear, each one provides a different experience. As venues continue to engage their customers and attendees differently, horror fans will continue to want to experience every single one to feel the varying ambiance that each has to offer.