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WhirlyBall Opens Huge New Bucktown Complex Tuesday, Adds Bowling Alley

By Alisa Hauser | December 9, 2014 8:44am
 WhirlyBall has relocated to a new 50,000-square-foot entertainment complex, with 12 bowling alleys, three WhirlyBall courts, a full bar and restaurant, party rooms and more.
WhirlyBall Moves to Bigger City Home
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BUCKTOWN — WhirlyBall — a popular place for group outings — is opening a new entertainment complex on Tuesday, adding a bowling alley, an updated menu with several gluten-free dishes and a "WhirlyBar" with cocktails and craft beers.

"We are really excited to open and did not want to miss a beat between closing the other location and opening here. Everyone has been working long days to make this happen," owner Sam Elias said Tuesday.

Located at 1823 W. Webster Ave., just east of Damen Avenue, WhirlyBall's new 50,000-square-foot Chicago headquarters is about a half-mile south of its original outpost at 1880 W. Fullerton Ave.

Construction on the the two-story facility, which overlooks the Kennedy Expressway and provides skyline views from the outdoor balcony, kicked off in March.

Elias said the new WhirlyBall will bring about 90 jobs to the area — 30 of which are new hires to staff the larger enterprise, nearly twice the size of the previous location. The move was prompted by a city plan to demolish several buildings, including the one WhirlyBall had rented since 1996.

Part of the Damen, Elston and Fullerton intersection makeover, the demolition of buildings near the intersection was set to begin in October but has not yet occurred. On Monday, a city spokesman was not immediately available for an update on the project.

WhirlyBall's new entertainment mecca includes 12 bowling lanes, four of which are located on the second level, a 3,500-square-foot laser tag arena, and three of WhirlyBall courts, named Damen, Elston and Webster, paying homage to area streets.

Among other amenities are 60 flat-screen TVs and a restaurant with plenty of seating at comfy couches and tables that are made with reclaimed bowling alley lane wood, designed by Studio K creative.

WhirlyBall's executive chef Abbie DeWald said that the new menu, featuring American cuisine designed for sharing, is larger than the previous one and many of the recipes, including pizza, have been reformulated to meet gluten-free dietary standards.

See the menu here.

Among the dozen or so new menu items are The New Yorker, a brisket pot roast sandwich on a baguette, a Bahn Mi wrap, made with roasted pork and cucumbers; pear and gorgonzola flatbread; and artichoke sliders.

A cocktail menu and rotating selection of 32 craft beers will initially include Moody Tongue Seasonal Selection, Goose Island Fulton and Wood Series.

In addition to WhirlyBall and bowling, where the bowling balls are designed to look like billiard balls, the new space will also include a large event room that can fit up to 300 people and several meeting areas for group outings, birthday parties and corporate events.

The Chicago Sport and Social Club League and LTS Chicago, a charity driven sports league, will be offering bowling and WhirlyBall leagues at the new facility, Elias said.

Elias, who first played WhirlyBall at his 30th birthday party in Florida, brought the sport to the Chicago area 22 years ago, first setting up shop in Lombard before expanding to the Lincoln Park location in 1996.

WhirlyBall, where players sit in bumper cars, combines lacrosse, hockey and basketball.

While maneuvering bumper cars, two teams of five players use hand-held scoops to pass a whiffle ball to each other as they try to score by hitting a target.

WhirlyBall, 1823 W. Webster Ave.  Hours are 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday ;11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday.  Ph: 773-486-7777.

WhirlyBall's New Chicago Menu

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