Emporium Arcade Bar in Wicker Park has been pushing back its Grand Opening since at least March. The staff has been hired. Building inspections have been passed. Countless tweets and status updates from Emporium have promised "SOON", but the doors remain closed. At this point, it's almost a joke. Emporium has told its fans to stop asking entirely. The wait has been grueling for geeks, whose enthusiasm is surely not infinite.
Last weekend, Emporium finally allowed some press peeks. Woo-hoo! My crew took photos and spoke to Danny and Doug Marks, the brains behind the bar. Here's the latest:
Hours (eventually) - 5PM - 2AM weekdays, noon-2AM weekends.
Beer - No list yet. Expect a large and rotating selection, including local brews.
Food - None, but guests will be encouraged to bring their own. BYOmnomnoms. Ha~
Cost - Beers will average $5-6. Each game will cost 1 token (25 cents). A nice night at Emporium could set a person back about $25.
Games - +/- 40 machines from the '70s - '90s, all collected locally. Circus Charlie and Tri-Pool are among the rarest, but it's the quality of the boxes that's truly impressive. Dig Dug's sideart is pristine, and the Budweiser edition of Tapper works like a dream. Old-school gamers will enjoy Asteroid, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Qbert. There are fighters and shooters, but it's important to know that everything is vintage. You won't find Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, DDR, Star Wars Trilogy Arcade, or even my favorite, Dragon's Lair. ...There is Space Jam pinball, however. Dibs.
Neighborhood - 1366 N. Milwaukee. Wicker Park is a geek's haven. My group walked to The Wormhole when we were done at Emporium. WIN.
Building - The site was gutted, and rehabbed for a full year. Early on, the back of the space was sunken downward- typical Chicago! You wouldn't know it, though. The inside is now beautiful wood, rustic paint, and tin ceilings. It even smells new.
Hipster - ...So why did I say Emporium will be "hipster"? The guys aren't gamers! One of the gents worked at a similar venue in New York. The other played Madden on XBox until he got red ring'd, and never went back. Huh. The "hispter" title was most evident in a loving comparison of arcade machines to vinyl records. ...Also there were hipster clothes and beards, but I try not to stereotype. ;-)
Many hardcore gamer geeks applied for jobs at Emporium, but Danny and Doug called them "ideal customers-" not the bartenders the place neede-
OK, readers. @EmporiumChicago seriously just tweeted about the opening, and the date got "accidentally" cut off by the 140-character limit. Honestly? We've been waiting too long for that to be funny anymore. :-/ I JUST WANT TO BE EXCITED AND HAPPY FOR YOU, EMPORIUM!!
...Aaanyway. I was warned that the opening announcement and actual opening could happen same-day. Pay close attention to Geek Girl Chicago's Facebook and Twitter for updates. In the meantime, try Logan Hardware or Galloping Ghost for your arcade fix.
Enjoy the photos by Jess Cwik, and post below if you're as ready as I am!!
UPDATE: An opening date has been announced on the Emporium Facebook! Tuesday, June 19th. BE THERE.
DOUBLE UPDATE: ...In a sudden twist, they are opening their doors in 15 minutes. Sunday the 16th... and here's the beer list.