There's a new wrinkle to the world of video game arcade bars. No longer content to just provide booze and a place for retro arcade fun, more establishments are placing a large focus on food as the "gastrocade" trend emerges.
The latest example comes to northwest suburban Mount Prospect, where Tokens and Tankards plans to open in late summer or early fall. They're going for a "European-inspired gastropub menu." T&T founder Vince Scalabrino is a home brewer and video game enthusiast, often active in the children's hospital charity Chicago Loot Drop, which annually raises money to buy video games for sick patients. In fact, if the "Token and Tankards" name feels familiar, it's because the Loot Drop used the name for a past event at Emporium Arcade Bar.
In addition, "the vast majority" of the 20-plus rotating handles of beer will be from brewers within 20 miles of Chicago. That coincides with the local theme that extends to the arcade cabinets: with companies like Midway based in Chicago, games like "Pac-Man" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" were built in the city, and Token and Tankards wants to exclusively feature locally-made games. The crew soon expects to finalize the lease at Rt. 83 and Northwest Highway in downtown Mount Prospect.
It's not exactly a secret code, as Scalabrino isn't the only one who wants to power up food at arcades. Lucky Strike's unveiling its FTW concept in Streeterville and Level 257 at Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg is employing a similar formula. Even standbys like Emporium Arcade Bar and Headquarters Beercade are realizing the importance of food in the bar/arcade world.