St. Charles’ Prohibition-Style ‘Club Arcada’ Holds Grand Opening This Week
An unusual business concept takes shape this week with the grand opening of “Club Arcada” in St. Charles.
The club draws on Kane County architecture and history to bring about what the news release describes as “one of the most exclusive entertainment experiences in the Midwest, re-living the glory days of The Roaring Twenties in Chicago.”
The club is located on the third floor of the historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, the iconic 1926 music hall celebrating its 90th anniversary. Originally opened in the “Repeal of Prohibition” era of the 1930s, Club Arcada returns “with all the glory and excitement of those flapper-girl, bathtub gin days of yesteryear,” the news release said.
The club was created after two years of “hush-hush” preparation and is the brainchild of Ron Onesti, Arcada Theatre president and CEO.
“(It is) a dream come true — something that has been working in my head since I was 10 years old watching black-and-white films on Sunday mornings,” Onesti said.
Club Arcada is an all-age venue, open 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and on select Thursdays and Sundays. There is a two-drink minimum if food is not ordered. Typically, there is a nominal entertainment charge, and the price may vary.
Another unusual aspect of the entertainment experience is that the club asks patrons to “dress to impress,” especially for the “Gatsby Girls & Guys,” room, where guests are invited to show up in 1920s period outfits. “Beachwear, shorts, gym shoes, T-shirts and tattered jeans will not be allowed,” the website says.
Guests begin the evening by entering through a secret door located in the “Arcada Theatre Third Floor Library” next to a 1920s “Streets of Chicago Shoeshine Stand.” Just through the “secret doorway” is the “Prohibition Lounge,” a quiet getaway from the main live-music room.
Adjacent to the lounge is the “Louis Armstrong Speakeasy Bar,” a copper-and-bronze saloon flanked by a 48-star flag from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, a 125 year-old cash register and 100-year-old beer taps.
Across the hall from Armstrong’s is “Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp Room,” where a 5-foot, 1908 shutter camera and original spotlights and stage lights from 1926-era Arcada Theatre are on display. Adding to the experience in that room is classic Chaplin film posters and rare photos with the comedy legend’s historic black and white films projected directly onto the wall, and a discreetly placed Chaplin bowler hat for guests to try and locate.
At the end of the hall is the “Fred & Ginger Room,” the main showroom named for dance legends Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, with a professional dance floor, muraled walls, and a thousand-crystal chandelier. Within the room are two additional VIP options: the “Casablanca Corner” and the “Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Booth.”
Annexed to the main ballroom is “Gatsby’s at Club Arcada,” a semi-private area for 20 guests with floating vintage musical instruments and comfy couches. Tucked in the corner is the “Jean Harlow Marquee Room,” another VIP experience for up to six guests with a 10-foot window overlooking the Arcada Theatre marquee.
In the showroom is the “Cab Calloway Mainstage,” where entertainers perform for an intimate audience. Period jazz, blues, comedy, Broadway, rockabilly and other unique performances will be featured.
Among the entertainers will be Stray Cats” star Lee Rocker, and Chicago cabaret performers Jennifer Graham and Denise Tomasello. Legacy acts will include Antonia Bennett, who regularly appears with her legendary father Tony, Chris Lemmon with a salute to the career of his father Jack, A.J. Croce and his two-generation show including songs of his dad, Jim Croce, Jazz great Ariana Savales-Telly’s daughter, Shirley King, daughter of the “King of the Blues” BB King and Carlise Guy & The NuBlu Band, Buddy Guy’s daughter.
On most nights, Club Arcada is open to the general public, offering dinner, small plates, desserts or late-night snacking. Typically, the doors to Club Arcada open at 5 p.m. for early dinner. The entertainment begins about 8:30 p.m., but it is suggested to eat a bit earlier to truly enjoy the entertainment experience. But the full food and beverage menu is available throughout the show.
Guests who love to dance are asked to check the website for the dancer icon to see which shows will be a dance party.
Reservations are encourages and seating is limited. Many shows will have separate tickets. Visit www.clubarcada.com for more information.
SOURCE: Club Arcada news release