Wouldn’t it be great if you could be a teenager again, but still be able to enjoy great craft beer, cocktails, and food? You can. Headquarters Beercade has made it possible. With two locations, River North and Lakeview, “HQ” Beercade offers Chicagoans and its visitors a place to hang out, listen to music, play vintage arcade games, and indulge in a few libations.
HQ Beercade exudes unpretentiousness. Both venues are part neighborhood tavern, part old-school arcade, part Chicago nightclub, and part craft-brew taproom. Like a good cocktail, the individual components seamlessly merge into one satisfying homogeneous concoction. Moreover, HQ transcends demographics and generations; the mix of ages, races, and personalities is something to behold, and no one seems to notice the eclectic mix. HQ is the embodiment of “chill.”
Mostly, though, it’s just a cool place to hang out and feel like a kid again. Brian Galati, co-founder of HQ Beercade’s managing group, Machine Hospitality, explained, “We love the idea of putting the classics in front of people and watching their eyes light up with excitement. There always seems to be an overwhelming sense of happiness in our venues, and it’s more than just the physical side of playing a video game but the fantastic memories that surfaced from the childhood version of yourself playing them as a kid.”
While simultaneously feeding one’s inner teenager, one can also enjoy HQ’s extensive and sophisticated craft beer and cocktail menu, “We set out to create our own unique signature with a more upscale version of the vintage gaming concepts.” And they take their craft beer seriously, “We research, research, and research some more. We have a new beer director Mike Howell, who has been a great addition to the team. We offer selections from around the country, and we are proud to be a part of the Chicago craft-beer scene. We think it is important to promote our local resources. I think we have a very solid relationship with all of our local craft beer brewing gods.”
Don’t be intimidated by the beer and drink menus. An establishment with wall-to-wall arcade games speaks to its approachability. More than that, the HQ staff is incredibly knowledgeable, “We require that every staff member is Beer Server Certified, and we put them through weeks of pretty intense training…they are frequently tested. Department heads take each staff member through individual “one-on-one’ training to make certain they are prepared to answer all of the questions about our program.”
Some places suffer when they attempt to be too many things to too many people, lacking identity. However, HQ Beercade has no such problem. Galati noted, “When we make selections for our craft beer, game titles, dishes, and cocktails, we do so with the mindset of making sure each portion of our demographic has something that appeals to them.”
HQ reminds us all why the teenage life was so fun, but also that being an adult has its rewards, too. So, enjoy an IPA or stout, play a little Pac-Man, and watch Japanese game show contestants fall in the mud.
It’s okay. You can do your homework later. Mom will never know.