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Emporium Arcade Bar Joins America’s Two Favorite Activities

Posted on May 20, 2012 AT 06:17pm

Emporium Arcade Bar Joins America’s Two Favorite Activities

The time has finally come! The arcade scene will soon be making a comeback to Chicago since the early 90’s! Sorry kids, adults only.

There’s a new type of bar opening in Chicago, IL. The first of its kind to open in Chicago, it’s called Emporium Arcade Bar. You will be able to mix two of America’s favorite activities, drinking and video games. Chicago hasn’t seen a real arcade since the early 90’s when they were first prohibited. How did Emporium find a loophole? Simple. Mixing the arcade idea with a bar of course! Doing this grants them permission to a full arcade; the reason being that they were prohibited was that kids were spending all their time and money on the arcades. In some cases, even skipping out on school. So how do you keep them out? The drinking age.

This bar is owned by the brothers Danny and Doug Marks. This will be in fact their first bar. They grew up in the suburbs north of Chicago, in a family involved with the entertainment business for generations. “Back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s our grandparents and then our dad’s generation had movie theatres around Chicago. Had arcades in the 80’s, roller rinks and things like that.” Danny was also the manager of Brooklyn’s Barcade. With that said I think it’s safe to say they have a good idea of what they are doing. The two have been working on the bar for months. From searching for the arcade machines, to renovating the entire inside of the bar, to what drinks they will have to offer. Just by what I witnessed when visiting, I am certainly excited to see the finished results opening day.

When asked if they were always gamers or attended any gaming events, Doug responded, “Gaming events we haven’t really been to. I’ve grown up around gaming. From having an original Nintendo all the way up to my Xbox 360, which died on me a couple of months ago.” So they aren’t just any bar owners, they have a love for gaming also.

This bar features over 30 arcade games and pinball machines. To name a few, they have Donkey Kong, Duck Hunt, Double Dragon, Burger Time, and a well kept TRON machine. I got to see a few in action and even play some myself. I found them all to be in great shape and in fine working condition. The machines are even maintained by their owners. If you’re not a huge gamer, fear not! Not only does the bar offer so many games but they will also have over 20 beers on tap, several whiskeys to choose from and a full bar. They also have plans of arcade-inspired cocktails. The machines will have their classic arcade price, which are in fact paid with the bar’s own custom tokens.

The majority of their arcade machines were purchased and found on Craigslist from previous arcade owners, collectors, bars and such. The bar has a retro theme so most of the games you will find here are from the 80’s. “We definitely went retro on the games. We probably have 65% that are from the 80’s and there’s a few more that trickle into the 90’s. The newest one we have is Marvel vs. Capcom, which is from ’97.” The majority of the games they have are actually based in Chicago, like Narc and Rampage. Most of them were made in Chicago thus the reference. The brothers pointed this out in the games, that over all these years even I never noticed. The brothers both agreed that NBA Jam had to be one of their many favorites.

They also plan to find and purchase more machines to swap in and out once in a while. So there’s always something different to play. As of now they only own about three pinball machines but depending on the feedback after the bar opens, they will consider finding more. For now, since they are a bit harder to maintain, they will focus on arcade machines. When it comes to spill and aggressive drinker prevention, they do ask that you try to go easy on the controls and keep drinks off the arcade machines themselves. They will have tables next to the machines for you to place your drinks upon. As for high score steaks at bar close, you will be forced to head out. Scores are not worth them losing their liquor license over.

The amount of feedback they are receiving on the bar is massive. From people requesting arcade games, to bachelor party plans, to gaming competitions. News is spreading fast and they have their work cut out for them. They already are being overwhelmed by anticipated future patrons. The excitement level is very high for their opening day, which you can see just by their Facebook and Twitter pages. I myself have already made plans of making it to opening day whether or not I am free. The brothers have hopes with opening in early June. With licenses and permits it has proved to be not such an easy task. If business goes as planned they do have ideas of expanding. For example Milwaukee, St. Louis and more. Even possibly making the original bar larger.

The hours of the bar, possibly subject to change, will be Monday through Friday from 5 P.M.-2 A.M. and Saturday & Sunday from 12 P.M. – 3 A.M. These hours will only be open to those of age and sneaking in will not be an option with a doorman they will have each night.

If you would like more information, you can find their website at www.emporiumchicago.com. Like them on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/EmporiumChicago. Follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/EmporiumChicago.

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