Mike O'Donnell's Irish Pub ushers patrons from a broad stretch of Franklin Avenue into a bar from which all pretense has been stripped away in favor of a cozy vibe conducive to unwinding. Even the ceiling tiles broadcast the pub's ties to the community in the form of quaint, business-card-style ads for local businesses. In the game room, friendly competitors hone their skills at the dartboard and draw cues for dibs on the pool table between bites of Irish-inspired appetizers and burgers hot from the grill. Meanwhile, barkeeps refill glasses and chat with regulars as flat-screen TVs keep crowds updated on sports action and the latest commands from Big Brother.
Couched in the stadium seats of luxury, patrons at Muvico Theaters enjoy the latest blockbusters in crystal-clear Sony 4K digital projection. Moving D-Box seats in certain movie houses take the motion-picture experience to the next level, and huge armrests in the Premier section leave room for midmovie dining and premovie thumb wars. Muvico also shows golden oldies in addition to new releases and live events, such as live comedy, sporting events, and beer and wine tastings
Like a Picasso portrait of a bowling alley, Kings presents many facets stitched together seamlessly. Within the vibrant 27,000-square-foot interior, ‘70s supernova-style chandeliers and overstuffed lounge seating hark back to the retro roots of Americana while more than 50 big-screen HDTVs and projectors inject a spike of modern, technology-driven society. Above 20 bowling lanes, whose oil glistens under colored lights, sports stream so that not a play is missed. Three billiards tables, on the other hand, rest in a lounge area that is relatively private, cut off from the rest of the world and the crash of pins by muted red walls. Kings has hosted thousands of parties at locations across the country since its opening, and has private party rooms, where six bowling lanes lit with black lights complement the dotted light spread by a spinning disco ball.
Though kids are welcome to bowl and eat, the decor begins a message that ends with the 21+ policy in the evenings: this is not the average bowling alley. On granite topped tables amid the dining area's curtain-draped walls, patrons can dine on a menu of pizza, burgers, and ribs. Outside, chrome-topped tables dapple the patio, beckoning young lovers or negotiating world leaders to enjoy a specialty cocktail—such as the Big Balls for Two—or share an ice-cream float.
The River Grove Sheffield's serves up much of the same menu as its Chicago brethren. Enjoy spacious indoor or outdoor seating as you edibly encounter a full slab of barbecue ribs ($18.95). Other entrees include beer-battered fish and chips ($12.95) and barbecue spaghetti ($10.95), served with choice of smoked chicken, pulled pork, or brisket. Or munch on a barbecue platter, including smoked sausage ($9.95), smoked chicken ($9.95), or the combo platter ($16.95), with a choice of any two of Sheffield's barbecue options. In addition to ample parking, delivery, and HDTV-viewing options, the River Grove location also offers live entertainment on weekends—ideal for locals who have just realized that their television is a fish tank.
Rose and Stanley Sacharski never meant to open a tiki bar. Their first watering hole, The Lucky Start on Fullerton and Lockwood, was a simple neighborhood tavern until some bamboo wall coverings inspired endless questions from customers: were they a tiki bar? By 1963, the Sacharskis decided their answer was yes, and let their young son pick a new name—Hala Kahiki—from a copy of Dennis the Menace Goes to Hawaii.
Now located inside a former greenhouse in River Grove, Hala Kahiki pours more than 100 tropical-themed cocktails, mingling rum with daiquiris and gin with tropical fruits. Hanging shells sway above the bamboo-lined bar, and rattan lampshades and cane chairs evoke the pleasures of an endless Hawaiian summer. Tables and chairs dot a spacious outdoor garden, and an on-site gift shop stocks Hawaiian shirts, leis, wood-hewn lamps, and several former cast members of Gilligan's Island.