Move aside ping pong, an English dart bar is coming to be the new cool happy hour game bar in The Loop from the team behind AceBounce. Flight Club will feature 14 oches (rhymes with “hockey”) where up to 20 dart players will have an interactive semi-private experience to try their hand at playing darts. The two-level space will open this winter at 111 W. Wacker Drive, above AceBounce. Food and drinks will come from AceBounce’s culinary/beverage team — chef Rick Gresh and beverage director Peter Vestinos.
On the ground floor, they’ll serve light menu with a raw bar and salads, flatbreads, and entrees. The second floor will feature a casual menu with dips and shareables. Unlike Point & Feather, the River North bar opening on November 3, darts are the primary focus. But, like what AceBounce did for ping pong, they’ll try to build a more relaxed atmosphere rather than a competitive one. The Tribune first reported the news. Flight Club debuted in 2015 in London, and there are two in England’s capital city. AceBounce arrived in Chicago in June 2016.
Eater Chicago talked to Gresh, the former chef at Virgin Hotels Chicago, to learn a little bit more about darts and Flight Club.
What will Flight Club bring to Chicago?
A couple things — one is the game of darts everywhere else is quite different than our game of darts. We have technology that guides players through games, which kind of levels the playing field. Darts at Flight Club is for players of all skill levels, so you don’t have to be the best at darts to play. You don’t have to know the game here, which is good because dart bars don’t really exist in Chicago — there’s just chalk and you have to know the game. Coupled with the food and beverage program, a place like this just doesn’t exist.
What’s the atmosphere going to be like?
It’s really high energy. The core is a modern interpretation of a 1900s English fairground. Darts is a traditional British game and it comes from an English pub, so we’re bringing those two things together with modern touches. Think bright colors — it’s a really cool experience, I’d have to say.
What about the food and the drinks?
It’s an elevated menu, we’re making food from scratch. But the drinks are really playful. Peter doesn’t come to the table with premade stuff. They’re really focusing on botanicals and interesting flavors as opposed to other places that are focused on beer and brown liquors only.
What the hell is an oche?
An oche is the playing area. You have to imagine, if you have your own semi-private area, you have the dart playing area in the middle and the tables and chairs are sort of surrounding it. Everything is focused on the game, your food is right there. You can have a big group or you can have a smaller four-top or a 10-top. You can have 25 people playing on two oches still playing the same game. You don’t have to score, the system does it for you. It’s not like a digital dart board, it has its own system.
Do you need a reservation?
You can make reservations or walk in, it doesn’t matter. The great part of the idea is similar to what we’ve done at AceBounce — where you can preorder your food and drink so you can tell everyone in your group how much it’ll cost ahead of time, with the game, food, and drinks included.