By Igor Studenkov
For the Bugle
At a casual glance, Play and Spin entertainment center, which opened at 7631 N. Caldwell Ave. two weeks ago, looks like a regular children’s arcade. But there is one important difference.
Owners Tibi Robe and Adrian Tudor felt that, while arcades are fun place for children, adults are usually left standing without a lot to do. They set out to create something that would have something to offer for kids and adults alike. In addition to a go-kart track and an arcade, it has a sports bar, a nail salon and the karaoke stage.
Play and Spin is still fairly new, so some parts of it aren’t quite ready. But John McFadden, the entertainment center’s manager, says that most of the amenities are ready to go – and the response they’ve gotten so far has been encouraging.
Before Play and Spin opened, Niles families had several options to choose from. Kiddie Kingdom, a smaller, more traditional children’s arcade, is a long-time village fixture, and Jump Zone, a chain of play centers best known for large inflatables, has a location in Niles industrial district. Chuck E Cheese’s arcade games chain has a location in Skokie, within walking distance of Niles’ Village Crossing shopping plaza.
As McFadden explained to the Bugle, Play and Spin founders saw a major flaw with traditional children’s entertainment centers.
“They were tied of going to places with kids where they didn’t have something to do,” he said. “They [decided] to set up something where the whole family can go.”
They wound up opening in a 55,000 square-foot space in the western end of Niles’ Howard Street industrial district. While McFadden said he wasn’t sure why the owners went with this location in particular, he was impressed with the way the village reached out to Play and Spin.
“This is a fantastic location,” he said. “We’re in a great community. The Village of Niles has been fantastic – great to work with. The mayor and the staff has been wonderful.”
Play and Spin officially opened on the first week of October. Before that, they held a special night for the people who liked their official Facebook page, with attendees getting special passes. An official grand opening was held on Oct. 10.
The arcade space is located closest to the doors. While in traditional arcades, players usually get paper tickets when they win, Play and Spin uses an “e-ticket” system, with points stored electronically on a plastic card.
McFadden said that they wanted to have arcade machines that could appeal to kids and adults alike. The claw machine near the center of the room, he said, has been very popular with all age groups.
For adults, there are massage chairs along the west wall. A manicure and pedicure area is located on a slightly raised stage at the north end of the arcade space, with six manicure and pedicure stations. Both are positioned so that adults can keep an eye on their kids.
The sports bar is located in a separate room east of the arcade area. It has 20 ping-pong tables and flat TV screens. McFadden said that be offers draft beer, wines and even champagne.
Play and Spin also has a restaurant area where the entire family can eat. Located north of the arcade space, it offers traditional fast food such as hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza, but, as McFadden emphasized, they also offer soups, a few salads, all-natural juices and espressos.
For private parties and events, Play and Spin has five rooms that can be rented out.
Finally, the entertainment center has a 6,000 square foot go-cart track. McFadden said that kids must be at least 54 inches tall to ride – though he added that shorter kids can ride with someone age 16 or older.
As the general manager noted, a few aspects of Play and Spin aren’t entirely finished. Most notably, one of its main features – a laser tag area – wasn’t ready before the grand opening.
“We’re expecting to have a Laser Tag arena [open] before Christmas,” he said.
McFadden asked the customers to bear with them.
“We apologize ahead of time if we’re not 100 percent [finished],” he said.
Still, McFadden said that “90 percent” of Play and Spin is up and running, and he was pleased with the response they got so far.
“We’re excited that we’re open and we’re excited to see good [number] of people,” he said.
For now, Play and Spin is preparing for a Halloween event. McFadden hasn’t figured out all the details yet, but once he does, the information will be posted on the entertainment center’s Facebook page. But there is one thing he already settled on.
“If you come dressed in costume, you’ll get a treat in a form of a gift card,” McFadden said.