The pinball wizards behind River North hit Headquarters Beercade are looking to expand their Chicago footprint in the coming months with a neighborhood spin on their popular arcade bar. Co-owners Chireal Jordan and Brian Galati applied for a liquor license for Headquarters Beercade Pilsen this month at 917 W. 18th Street. They’re shooting for an early 2020 opening, should the city provide licenses in a timely manner.
Jordan describes the project as a “cool neighborhood bar with cool neighborhood prices.” A Pilsen resident since 2007, Jordan said he and Galati have long wanted to open a scaled-down neighborhood iteration of their downtown spot. Though he wouldn’t share many details, he noted that the 4,000 square-foot space bears many of the Headquarters design hallmarks: timber, raw industrial concrete, high ceilings, and a lot of glass. Still, Jordan said customers shouldn’t expect a duplicate of the River North bar. “We will have a lot of offerings at this address that we don’t have at any other address,” he said.
He was also reluctant to let much slip about food or drink, but said they plan to make use of the growing number of Pilsen breweries. Lo Rez Brewing and Alulu Brewpub are among the neighborhood’s recent additions. Jordan said that area brewers seem “very keen” to get in on the project. The River North location was the first Chicago arcade bar with a full kitchen, offering bar fare such as wings (“zinger,” honey barbecue, and jerk), burgers, sandwiches, and fries. River North’s drink options include a selection of canned craft beers, cocktails, boozy freeze pops, and shots such as “Oreo cookie pie” (Oreos, ice milk, vodka).
Pilsen residents have previously expressed frustration with developers and restaurateurs who sweep into the neighborhood. Jordan said he’s watched various companies try to make good in the area — successfully or otherwise — and he’s sensitive to the community’s concerns. He and Galati spoke with Alderman (25th Ward) Byron Sigcho-Lopez before making any concrete plans, and said they received “great direction.” They also plan to hold a job fair in the area and hope to hire a staff mostly composed of Pilsen locals.
“As a black man living in Pilsen, which is a Hispanic neighborhood, I’ve been met with open arms,” Jordan said. “We want to do this the right way and don’t want to be insensitive to the culture of Pilsen...it’s all about diversity.”
Headquarters Beercade first launched in Lakeview in 2012 with contemporary and classic arcade and video games, but after a lawsuit with former partner Mark Kwiatkowski, Replay parent company LKH Management took over the location. The River North bar launched in 2014, and the team established a Nashville location five years later. Jordan and Galati opened highly anticipated Wicker Park restaurant Machine this year.
Headquarters Beercade Pilsen is slated to open in early 2020. Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses.