Lincolnshire's Emporium scores with game-loving grown-ups
Arcades were popular in the 1980s. And now that arcade-loving kids have grown up, they're helping make adults-only arcade bars -- or "beercades" as they're sometimes called -- all the rage. One new example is Emporium in Lincolnshire. Smaller, more retro and less expensive than some other suburban spots, Emporium offers an impressive drink menu loaded with local craft beers and a large selection of quality liquors, plus classic arcade games ranging from a KISS pinball machine to foosball tables, most of which cost just 25 cents to play.
Motif: Kids aren't allowed in Emporium. The bar is for ages 21 and older only. General manager Roger De Vito said they may add daytime kids hours at some point, but for now, they can only come in for private events.
Emporium has locations in Chicago's Logan Square and Wicker Park neighborhoods, and opened in Lake County Jan. 7. The bar took over the 9,800-square-foot space last occupied by Champps.
The bar's open layout and colorful graffiti walls are lined with pinball machines and arcade games, including '80s classics like "Centipede" and "Galaga." A large bar anchors the space, and there are flat-screen TVs overhead.
The arcade games are inexpensive. A bag of 20 tokens is $5, which will go a long way since most games take just one. Pool is two tokens.
Crowd: During a recent Friday night visit, strange house music was playing when we arrived at 7:30 p.m. and most people in the place were male gamers in their early 20s. By 9 p.m. the vibe had totally changed. Music from the '80s and '90s (think: Guns N' Roses, Simple Minds and Flock of Seagulls) was playing and the atmosphere had turned festive. The bar, games and pool tables were filled with couples and groups of men or women, most in the under-40 age range.
Food: The only food option is pizza, with large generic-tasting slices kept warm under a heat lamp and served on paper plates. De Vito noted that they may improve the food menu soon, possibly adding small sandwiches.
Liquid consumption: Emporium's emphasis is on the bar, and the staff will help you navigate the large menu of craft beers and liquors, many made in the Midwest.
Among the picks are suburban-brewed beers, some on tap. We liked the light Crystal Lake Wake Maker, the Mundelein-made Irish red ale TightHeadScarlet Fire and the Solemn Oath Snaggletooth Bandana made in Naperville.
More adventurous beer drinkers might try the Michigan-made Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree, which has a 13.6 percent alcohol content, or the Stone Bitter Choco Oatmeal Stout, which sounds like a dessert but packs a 9.2 percent alcohol kick.
If you want something you don't see on the menu, be sure to ask. That's how we found apple and peach versions of Vander Mill Cider, in cans.
Emporium also has an excellent bourbon menu. Options include the smooth Basil Hayden's and the smoky and spicy High West Campfire.
Service: We found the bar staff knowledgeable and friendly.
Overall: To enjoy '80s arcade games and excellent drinks in a kid-free environment, Emporium is a great choice for retro fun.
Emporium275 Parkway Drive #311, Lincolnshire, (847) 947-8541, emporiumchicago.com/lake-county/
Hours: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, noon to midnight Sunday