Empire of the fun 

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The Imperial

1800 N. Orange Ave.

More than anything else, the Imperial – the bar tucked into the back of Washburn Imports – is an example of a good idea brilliantly executed. The plan was to draw potential new shoppers into this Antique Row furniture store through the delicious allure of craft beer and wine, and it seems to be paying off 
(and judging by all the BMWs in the lot, appealing to the right demographic, too).

Draft and bottled beers range from $4 on up to $20, and wines are $7 to $13 a glass, which you’re free to carry around while you ogle the unique (and coaster-protected) wooden hutches, tables and cabinetry. (Certain spaces are off-limits to those carrying drinks.) Controlled from behind the bar, music plays gently throughout the space, and the tunes seem to emanate from the mellow woods. All of it – music, beer, decor – takes a sophisticated stance, more or less reflecting the upmarket sensibilities of the clientele.

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