Calling all wannabe spies! SafeHouse and EscapeHouse are now open in Chicago. These fully immersive experiences take a cue from America’s time honored intelligence operations, offering team-building entertainment alongside savory food and drink. Here are 10 things we’ve been cleared to tell you about these “top secret” destinations.

1. It all began in Milwaukee. The original SafeHouse opened as a spy-themed restaurant and bar in 1966, right around the Cold War era. The Marcus Corporation purchased it in 2015 and began renovations, while looking for a second location, settling on Chicago. “We think this brand does well in a city that is tourism-driven and Chicago fits that,” says Peggy Williams-Smith, senior vice president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts, aka Agent Blonde.

2. You have to play along. To enter SafeHouse you have to know the secret password and provide an agent name. Those who don’t know the code to get in will enter a holding room and be tested by Agent M to ensure your group includes friendly spies. “This could include hula hooping, muscle poses or whatever he is feeling in the mood to make you do,” says Agent Blonde.

3. The menu is tasty. SafeHouse offerings are broken out into Q-Branch (appetizers), The Farm (salads), Seals & Flaps (sandwiches), Black Ops (burgers) and Counter Intelligence (entrees). The awardwinning Fried C4 Cheese Curds are a must— the brand is from Wisconsin after all!

4. There are real artifacts inside. The Gettys Group helped design SafeHouse, with extreme attention to detail. That includes an authentic spy plane donated by the man who flew it in WWII and a piece of the actual Berlin Wall. There’s also a “spybrary” with more international treasures on every shelf.

5. A magician adds to the atmosphere. There are live magic shows seven days a week at the Gadget Bar in SafeHouse. “In Milwaukee, we are the longestrunning continuous magic bar in the U.S. and we will continue that trend in Chicago,” says Agent Blonde.

6. Put your guest of honor in the Interrogation Room. Anyone in your group can be grilled in a secret Interrogation Room, which is streamed live so you can watch. After completing the task, they are rewarded with a drink of choice

7. EscapeHouse is just as fun. When Marcus Hotels & Resorts was developing Chicago’s SafeHouse restaurant and bar they realized they had extra real estate and opted to put together an escape room adventure. Groups of up to 10 have an option of “Saving the White House” or “Escape the Safe House.” Both will “lock” your group in a room for 60 minutes where you will have to solve clues to complete the mission and escape.

8. The EscapeHouse rooms have a top designer. No detail is left unturned here. In the “White House” adventure you’ll be set in a real life replica of the Oval Office. The rooms were designed by Agent Fudd, aka Paul Daurio of Creative Development, who is also responsible for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.

9. You don’t have to visit the venues together. While SafeHouse and EscapeHouse are designed to be a tandem experience (save the world, then eat!), you can enjoy them individually as well. Reservations are only needed for EscapeHouse.

10. Even the bathrooms are wired. SafeHouse Milwaukee was voted as having one of the top 10 bathrooms in the world by USA Today. The Chicago location draws inspiration from Milwaukee with tricks around every corner stall.

Chicago hospitality collective 16” on Center partners with local businesses to turn everything from bars to theaters into serviceable event venues. Founding partners Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden have transformed 14 businesses (like Bite Café, Dusek’s Board & Beer, MONEYGUN, The Promontory, Thalia Hall and more) and have provided a single point of contact for event planners interested in utilizing these spaces as venues. 

 

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