Emporium, a small chain of Chicago-founded arcade bars, is adding an Oakland location to its growing collection this week. The latest gaming and drinking parlor is located under the same roof as the historic Fox Theater in Uptown Oakland, though in a separate space at 1805 Telegraph Avenue. Free debut parties for the public will be held Wednesday and Thursday, with regular hours to follow.
Though Oakland’s location has a smaller footprint, Emporium stands to gain the same fervent following that its San Francisco’s location has found. On Divisadero since December 2017, where it gave new life to a formerly abandoned theater, San Francisco’s branch of Emporium has drawn steady crowds of 20-somethings for its multi-floor selection of arcade games, pinball machines, skee-ball, pool tables, and more. Another major draw: Emporium’s extensive selection of beer, plus wine and cocktails.
The new Oakland Emporium space is the former home of Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe. Rudy’s, a spinoff of an Emeryville diner co-owned by Green Day’s Mike Dirnt, opened in the Fox building in 2011, but closed — its name be damned — last summer.
The digs are 5,000 square feet, with room for around 30 arcade and table-top games. That’s less than half the size of Emporium San Francisco, but unlike the Bay Area original, the new space has a full kitchen. Rotating pop-ups will eventually use that space, with programming input from Nigel Jones, chef/owner of Kingston 11 in Oakland and Kaya in San Francisco.
The buildout for Emporium’s new Oakland location was also relatively speedy, especially compared to the years-long project of rehabilitating the Harding Theater space in San Francisco. But looking back, “That [SF] space was worth the wait and worth the work,” says Danny Marks, who operates the business with his brother, Doug. Together, they run three Emporium locations in Chicago.
When Emporium Oakland opens, its regular hours will be Monday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 2a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.