An opening date hasn't yet been set for the Pac-Man-themed restaurant and entertainment center coming to Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall, but its developers now know when they can guarantee a reservation.
"I'm absolutely confident we'll be taking reservations for Valentine's Day," said David Bishop, executive vice president of strategic project development for Wood Dale-based Namco Entertainment, Inc.
His best hope is to open the first-of-its-kind business called Level 257 in late January.
Namco Entertainment is affiliated with the makers of Pac-Man, and it's expected that the iconic video game's 35th birthday will be celebrated at the new Schaumburg restaurant on May 22.
In addition to celebrating Pac-Man in ways both obvious and subtle, the slyly named Level 257 (it's a reference to the highest level a player could reach on the original version of Pac-Man) also will feature 16 bowling lanes and a variety of other games ranging from pinball machines to table tennis to board games.
But above all, Level 257 is meant to be a high-end restaurant aimed at adults, albeit with a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
Namco Entertainment recently hired Corporate Executive Chef Aaron Whitcomb and Executive Chef Bradley Godinez to add some distinct personal identity to the menu being developed.
Level 257 will occupy 40,000 square feet of former warehouse space used by the Sears store at Woodfield, and will be capable of handling events of up to 1,000 people. It will have its own exterior entrance with no internal connection to the mall.
The prototype concept has been in development for the past four years, with the process of choosing a site alone lasting a year, Bishop said.
The concept has caused construction to take longer than originally expected, he added. Though an October opening date first was planned, the company decided to take more time to make a good first impression, Bishop said.
Nevertheless, the concept will be truly tested only when the business opens. And the way it is on Day One may be different three months later, he said.
The restaurant expects to employ about 150 people, with roughly a third of them already hired. Namco has set up an employee recruitment trailer in the Woodfield parking lot, near where the facade of Level 257 is still taking shape.