Friends with benefits: Steven Funkhouser at Area15

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Steven Funkhouser just opened Emporium at Area15 a few months ago, but he has played a supporting role in the company for over four years. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, the Managing Director helped launch the brand’s locations in San Francisco and Berkeley, California.

Funkhouser has a long history in the food and beverage industry, starting as a bartender for various dive bars around the City by the Bay, before moving on to manager of huge nightclubs. But in 2017, he changed it and decided to join Emporium, a company that creates childish entertainment for adults in the form of an arcade bar.

“We like to be a lot of things besides just being a place for video and classic games,” Funkhouser says. “We also try to bring a lot of other things to the table. We do a lot of events, music, DJs, it’s a very lively atmosphere. We try to be a fun place in every way. We try to give everyone a little something. Emporium’s goal is to be accessible to a diverse crowd. It’s an energetic but relaxed vibe – a place where it’s an alternative to a nightclub.

As Managing Director, Funkhouser helped build Emporium’s new location, its sixth, from scratch. There were only empty walls and buildings, and now the two-story space is packed with impressive local art, video games, classic pinball machines, and a craft cocktail bar.

“I’m a very active person, I would never do well behind a desk,” he says. “I have always liked to go for walks, to be social, to talk with people. As a manager, I always get to know my guests, by being on the stage. And I’ve always been a manager ready for anything – I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and helping. When you have a busy night, you’re the manager, and a great manager runs everything and pays attention to every little detail, and that makes a difference.

Libation: Old Fashioned Sonic Boom

“I wear a lot of hats at Emporium and one of them participates in the bar program,” says Funkhouser. He helped prepare the menu, which includes local draft beers and a great selection of spirits, and even created the bar’s handcrafted draft cocktails. There are four choices, like the Old-Fashioned Sonic Boom, blended with Templeton Rye Whiskey, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Solerno Blood Orange Liquor, and Cherry Peel Vanilla Bitter. All of the craft cocktails are made daily and are so popular that several kegs are emptied each night.

Advantage: Games include Killer Queens, Galaga, Street Fighter and more, and there’s a great collection of pinball machines too.

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