The proprietors of Chicago-based arcade bar chain Emporium are branching out across the Bay, opening a new Oakland location at 1805 Telegraph Avenue in the former Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe space. The new Emporium will be smaller than the team’s sprawling San Francisco location, which has drawn steady crowds for craft beer, pinball, pool, and video games since it opened in a former theater space on Divisadero last December. But by comparison with that much-delayed SF project, the Oakland Emporium is likely to open in relatively short order.
As with Emporium SF, the new Emporium’s location is an historic building: A corner of the Fox Theater, which reopened as a concert venue after a major restoration effort in 2009. Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, a spinoff of an Emeryville diner co-owned by Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, opened in the Fox building in 2011, but closed — despite its name — in July.
The 1805 Telegraph space on the Fox’s ground floor is around 5,000 square feet, with room for roughly 30 arcade and table-top games plus a full bar. By contrast, Emporium SF is 12,000 square feet. Another point of distinction: The Oakland location has a full kitchen, which could be contracted out or host rotating food partners. In the long run, the team may convert some kitchen space to more room for games and seating.
Also in comparison to Emporium’s SF location, the Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe space is practically turn-key. “That [SF] space was worth the wait and worth the work,” says Emporium’s Danny Marks, who founded the business with his brother Doug. “But this will be a much quicker process.” The new Emporium could open before the end of the year, he says.
“It’s a lot easier to open a second location than a first.”
Marks would know: In Chicago, Emporium operates three locations of varying sizes, plus a rotating pop-up hub. If all goes well, Emporium’s steady expansion could continue: “We do hope to keep expanding, but we’re not in any sort of race,” Marks says.