ROGERS PARK — A popular Uptown arcade bar has moved to Rogers Park, debuting in a prominent storefront and with a new name and a new component: Polish bar food.
Mission Control Arcade Bar will soon open at 1408 W. Morse Ave. The business is hoping to open Friday but is awaiting permits, the owners said on Facebook Thursday.
The debut in Rogers Park rings in a new chapter for a business that got its start in 2016 as Uptown Arcade.
Business partners Aaron Allen and Katie McDonald decided in fall 2020 not to renew Uptown Arcade’s lease at 4830 N. Broadway, instead choosing to wait out the worst of the pandemic with its arcade games in storage.
The partners started looking for a new location when they saw that Pub 626 closed due to the pandemic. The prominent storefront next to the Morse Red Line station and the Glenwood Avenue business corridor made sense for the arcade bar, McDonald said.
“Without COVID, you’re never going to shut down a business that’s up and running,” she said. “We thought it was an opportunity to improve the business.”
Mission Control has 50 arcade games and over 10 pinball machines, plus board games and a full bar. There are some improvements in the new space, including that the games and bar are in the same room instead of being separated by a hall, the owners said.
But the biggest addition to the business is the kitchen, which will be run by a company called The Bare Naked Pole. The kitchen will serve traditional arcade foods like pizza slices and nachos, but The Bare Naked Pole will add items like pierogies and other Eastern European foods.
The Bare Naked Pole is owned by Nick Druzbanski and Carisa Gonzalez, actors who are working on a stage production. The actors started a pierogi business while out of work during the pandemic. Gonzalez and McDonald grew up together, making for the perfect partnership on the new venture, they said.
“It was a pandemic survival thing,” Gonzalez said. “We were looking for something to do to make money, and we realized there is a market for this.”
The Bare Naked Pole will be considered a “resident pop-up” while the couple is working on a stage production, though it will take more permanent roots in the future, they said.
Mission Control has retained the previous version’s large collection of movies on VHS, which will be shown on a projector. It is planning to hold comic book release parties. On weekend mornings, the business plans to screen cartoons and offer cereal and french toast sticks.
Mission Control also wants to embed itself with Rogers Park’s large artist community. The walls of the bar will soon be covered with work from local artists, and Mission Control will continue to host the artisan markets that were held at Uptown Arcade.
“We love supporting artists,” McDonald said. “We want to ingratiate ourselves to the community as much as possible.”
Neighbors have been popping their head inside Mission Control to learn more about their business and express their excitement, McDonald and Allen said. People even wave to them from the Red Line platform.
“I don’t think we got this much interest in Uptown and we haven’t even opened yet,” McDonald said. “It’s incredible.”
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