Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2018

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1 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 TREND SafeHouse Locations: 2 Experience: Immersive spy theme It only took 50 years, but after Dave Baldwin's sale of SafeHouse in Milwau- kee to local lodging and hospitality op- erator The Marcus Corp., the legendary, spy-themed bar is primed for expansion. Baldwin has since passed away, but new owners Greg and Steve Marcus promised to keep the Chicago outpost and any future locations true to the original con- cept, which dates to 1966 — with some modern updates, of course. The Marcus Corp. opened SafeHouse Chicago in May 2017 with plans for further nationwide expansion of the brand. In a testament to the immer- sive restaurant's immediate success among Millennials as well as families, the group has already expanded into a separate, gaming-only concept called Escape Room, directly next door, which calls on participants to use teamwork and smarts to get out of an enclosed space in an hour. Both the Milwaukee and Chicago SafeHouse locations draw on this element of game, surprise, humor and wonder to bring much more to the table than just food. "Espionage is the world's second- oldest profession, and it seems to be piquing people's interests even more as of late because of all the news of Rus- sian interference," says Peggy Williams- Smith (aka Agent Blonde), senior vice president of Marcus Hotels and Resorts. "What we try to create at SafeHouse is the experience of living the life of a spy with a little movie, history and restau- rant mixed in." Designer Paul Daurio of Creative Development, LLC, was called upon to head up the concept development and design of the Chicago location. "I wanted to stay true to the essence of the Milwaukee location, which has an amazing collection of spy memorabilia given its ongoing presence throughout the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s, but also bring in some newer elements," he says. The Chicago location was chosen precisely for its underground location. Guests enter through an inconspicuous street-side door to a spy "front" dis- guised as an international export com- pany office outfitted in a '60s motif. Guests are greeted by Miss M, typically played by a local actor. In order to enter SafeHouse, all guests must complete a Immersive Experiences By Amelia Levin I mmersive dining and drinking expe- riences are nothing new, but they're gaining ground as their core patrons — Millennials — continue to seek out adventure and prioritize new experi- ences over acquiring new possessions. Whether it's dining in the dark, wearing Hawaiian shirts to a tiki bar, sipping cocktails in a frigid "ice bar" or having a meal in the middle of an art gallery at a pop-up restaurant, consumers are eager for novelty. There have been many different waves and iterations of these concepts, most recently seen at over-the-top fine dining popular in London and at Chicago's Alinea, which was recently revamped by Chef Grant Achatz and Partner Nick Kokonas to provide a more theatrical experience. Now, we're seeing more gaming aspects — from bowl- ing to bags, arcades and even escape rooms — weaving their way into the mix. Take a look at two multi-unit, im- mersive concepts doing it right. Spy memorabilia is just a fraction of the experience at SafeHouse in Chicago. Image courtesy of SafeHouse

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