A video game-themed restaurant and entertainment center is on track to open in January next to the Sears store at Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall.
Level 257 is a prototype concept by Namco Entertainment, Inc., the Wood Dale-based company affiliated with the makers of Pac-Man.
The restaurant's name is a sly reference to the iconic video game that will celebrate its 35th birthday at the new Woodfield site on May 22, 2015, said David Bishop, executive vice president of strategic project development for Namco.
Pac-Man originally featured 255 levels of play. Level 256 was a special level above that. So the restaurant refers to the ability to go beyond even that.
"It's the next level of entertainment," Bishop said.
The name is just one of many hidden stories that sharp-eyed patrons may find among the high-end dining, games and bowling lanes at the restaurant, he said.
"We're trying to build this really cool storyline," Bishop said. "The facility is built for adults. It's not a kid place."
Nevertheless, he said it's realistic to expect that kids will be there, and he wants it to be a place people are comfortable taking their families.
But with no disrespect to other entertainment concepts like Dave & Buster's or Gameworks, Level 257 is expected to be seen as a restaurant first, Bishop said.
"I think it'll be beyond what people are expecting," he added.
Schaumburg trustees Tuesday approved plans for the facade of the restaurant, which will be located on the upper level of Woodfield, next to Sears. The restaurant is being built in about 40,000 square feet of warehouse space formerly used by the retailer.
Level 257 will have only an exterior entrance, with no internal connection to the mall.
Bishop said this is a prototype concept his company has been working on for four years. While the original intent was to be open for the holidays, he said a decision recently was made to take a little more time, do it right, and open after New Year's Day.
"Schaumburg has been really good to us," Bishop said. "It took us a year to find the right site. We knew we wanted to be in the Chicago area. Nothing really sparked us until we found this spot at Woodfield."
When the restaurant opens, its bowling lanes will be the only ones in Schaumburg.