This New York City restaurant spends more than $60,000 a year getting ready for Christmas — take a look inside

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Rolf’s is rather unassuming from the outside.
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Sarah Jacobs

When it comes to getting in the Christmas spirit, no one does it quite like Rolf’s German Restaurant in New York City’s Gramercy Park.

The otherwise quiet restaurant and bar is a spectacle during the holidays. Thousands of sparkling ornaments, icicles, lights, and dolls dangle above customers as they sip spiked hot apple cider and mulled wine.

Last year, Business Insider spoke to restaurant manager Suhal Uddin to get the scoop behind Rolf’s tradition of over-the-top Christmas decorations. He estimated that there are about 15,000 ornaments and 100,000 lights hung up inside. It all costs the restaurant between $60,000 and $65,000 each year.

We had to check out the decorations for ourselves – here’s what we saw.


The Christmas decorations usually start going up during the last week of September.

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Sarah Jacobs

Over the following six weeks, six men work overnight, five nights a week, to complete the decorating process.

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Sarah Jacobs

By November 1, it’s complete. At Rolf’s, the holiday season begins well before Thanksgiving.

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Sarah Jacobs

Uddin said that the decorating tradition was carried over from the restaurant’s previous owner. It gets more elaborate each year.

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Sarah Jacobs

According to Uddin, there are an estimated 100,000 lights strung up throughout the restaurant.

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Sarah Jacobs

About 15,000 ornaments are hung from the ceiling.

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Sarah Jacobs

In addition to that, there are thousands of icicles.

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Sarah Jacobs

Plus, there are about 800 dolls.

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Sarah Jacobs

Once you notice the dolls, you can’t help but spot them everywhere.

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Sarah Jacobs

And here they are again.

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Sarah Jacobs

According to Uddin, Rolf’s replaces every ornament that’s broken or damaged. “The decorations cost us between $60,000 and $65,000 every year,” he told Business Insider.

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Sarah Jacobs

Special Christmas-themed cocktails, including spiced eggnog and mulled wine, are served throughout the season.

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Sarah Jacobs

The restaurant becomes extremely busy starting the second and third weekends of December. Uddin told us that the line to get in sometimes wraps around the corner.

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Sarah Jacobs

Tourists flock from all over the world to see Rolf’s. “We get a couple hundred international calls for reservations every year,” Uddin said. “We can’t accommodate everyone, but we try our best.”

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Sarah Jacobs

Luckily, they keep their decorations up until April, so that anyone who couldn’t make it for Christmas still has the chance to experience it in the spring.

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Sarah Jacobs

After that, all of the decorations are packed up and sent to a storage room in Brooklyn, where they sit until the next Christmas season.

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Sarah Jacobs