Having opened in 2019, The Quarter spent most of its existence toiling under COVID decrees, and sadly, the pandemic came to define the New Orleans-themed restaurant’s identity.
But now with the pandemic set to recede, the Allentown restaurant is closing and splitting into two new, separate concepts: an arcade and an upscale restaurant.
Taking over The Quarter’s location at 26 Virginia Place, the new Llama Dive Arcade is the causal side of the original concept. Focusing on the late-night crowd, the bar-cade opens at 9 p.m. There’s a small stage that will feature live music, an open mic night and karaoke. There’s also a slew of vintage video games and TVs.
Owner Brandon Carr was one of the original members of the lawsuit that successfully fought to keep Western New York restaurants open during COVID lockdowns, and while the lawsuit was able to reopen restaurants for indoor dining, it didn’t exactly bring a return to normal. The restrictions affected business, and a labor shortage rattled the entire hospitality industry.
Carr said he saw a shift in customer behavior too.
“As COVID happened, the regulations and labor shortages just decimated the late-night food options,” he said. “We noticed that a lot of people started coming at midnight, 1 a.m. to order food.”
The Llama Dive Arcade will keep its kitchen open until 3 a.m., making it one of the only late-night options in the area. The menu is packed with all of your favorite bar food hits: chicken fingers ($12), beef on weck ($15), pizza logs ($10), jalapeno poppers ($9) and the like.
The kitchen hours make the bar-cade a bit of a throwback to when there were a bunch of spots in Allentown or the Elmwood Village for late-night munchies. Speaking of throwbacks, the new bar-cade is also offering well drinks for $3.50.
For all of the great things the craft cocktail movement brought us, it’s also changed expectations on price. In the same way Starbucks normalized coffees that cost eight bucks, craft cocktail bars have normalized the idea of charging $10 or more for a drink, albeit with premium ingredients.
(Just to be clear, the well drinks at Llama Dive are a shot and whatever you want out of the soda gun.)
“Prices have inflated like crazy,” Carr said. “From ten years ago compared to today, prices have doubled. That doesn’t have to be the case. If we’re looking to get people in and have a good time, you don’t have to kill people with prices, especially these days, after what everyone went through with COVID.”
With karaoke nights, open mic nights and a bunch of entertainment options, giving the people what they want seems to be the theme with the new bar-cade. After two-and-a-half years of being told what to do, getting what you want, when you want seems like a pretty great idea.
“I’m not looking to make a million dollars on this place,” Carr said. “I just want to create a fun environment for people to have a good time, sing some karaoke, do some open mic, play some video games, grab some late-night food and get home safely.”
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday 9 p.m. – 3 a.m., Sunday, Monday, Wednesday CLOSED
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