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December 2014 Retro Gaming Article


December 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Namco's Pac-Man themed restaurant, Level 257, is set to open in a Chicago suburb

Almost 2 years ago we heard Namco was looking to oust Chuck E. Cheese's rein over the arcade/restaurant genre. Code named Level 256, Namco set out to create a model centered around their entertainment brand, that could be franchised. Level 257 restaurant & entertainment destination seems to be the result of their efforts.

level 257 restaurant & entertainment destination While we're familiar with Chuck E. Cheese and the barcade scene, Level 257 seems to be ushering in a larger version of this concept that caters to diners and gamers - but on a larger scale.

The focus is on the 180-seat restaurant (presenting fresh, chef-prepared dishes), while also offering a wide array of gaming options. It will feature 16 retro-styled bowling lanes with smart technology, table tennis, pinball machines and a video game lounge with original arcade games alongside modern titles. There will also be custom-built game tables and free-to-play board games to provide a unique entertainment experience. Rounding out it's offerings is a Pac-Man retail shop!

But Level 257 aren't all fun 'n games. When you see a Chuck E. Cheese commercial, they don't focus on food at all. You see that it's available, but they focus on the games. One might conclude that's because the food is not drawing much of a crowd - Yelp reviews support this notion.

Level 257 are adamant about being a serious restaurant. This is not a burger joint with an adjoining arcade. It's 40,000 square foot domain will feature executive chefs to oversee the menu and there will be cocktail lounges with fire pits. It definitely sounds like a more serious establishment than a kiddie arcade.

Balancing Dining and Gaming

Part of the challenge is balancing out the various amenities they plan on offering. While the Pac-Man connection will be subtle, it's hard to imagine fine dining with bowling, pinball, arcade cabinets and a retail Pac-Man shop. That isn't to say it can't be done. I'm actually excited to see how they do it. If successful, they'll have merged several entities into one entertainment destination!

Going back to what we heard in early 2013... Namco was setting out to develop a model that could be franchised. I'm not sure if that is still part of the plan, but if you don't live near Chicago, a Level 257 may one day be opening near you!

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