Near midnight Saturday in the Crossroads Arts District, it’s nearly standing room only at a new venue dubbed a “barcade.”
Up-Down Arcade drew a diverse crowd. Six guys intently playing a 6-person X-Men game. A group of young men and women spontaneously moving to Whitney Houston’s 1987 hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” arms wrapped around each others’ shoulders. A man in a three-piece suit — drink in hand — on a circular route of the 4,000-square-foot space. A couple on the mezzanine, lost in their public display of affection. And some customers who just wanted to hang out at the bar, the patio and upper deck for a drink and conversation.
Up-Down Arcade recently opened in the former Hamburger Mary’s spot at 101 Southwest Blvd. After a major remodeling, the bright purple is gone, replaced by dark colors, a central bar and more than 40 upright arcade games including Galaga, Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, Asteroids, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker, and Frogger, as well as pinball games, and Skee-Ball lanes.
Up-Down Arcade made its debut in Des Moines in October 2013. Owners Josh Ivey, Sam Summers and Rafe Mateer selected the Crossroads for their second location because the area was similar to the Des Moines district they knew, “a really cool area with an up-and-coming vibe,” Ivey said.
Patrons must be 21 or older. Earlier in the evening, the crowd tends to be a bit older, the people who grew up playing stand-up arcade games. The games cost just a quarter, as they did back in their day, with patrons buying tokens four for a dollar.
In keeping with the vintage games, Up-Down Arcade has a 1980s and 1990s theme — from the music overhead to the giant video screens showing “American Gladiators,” a competition television series that aired in the late 1980s and 1990s, and movies such as 1983’s “The Outsiders.”
Up-Down Arcade offers 58 beers on tap, and more varieties in bottles and cans. It has a restaurant/bar liquor license — as did Hamburger Mary’s — so it will roll out a food menu, probably by this summer. The Des Moines location doesn’t offer food, but it does offer specialty cocktails. The Kansas City location also plans to introduce those later. It also wants to hold tournaments and leagues, as its Des Moines counterpart does.
The combination of nostalgic games with craft beers will set it apart from other venues, the owners said.
“It is as much about the things we are not as the things we are,” Ivey said. “We offer an alternative. We are not a bar, not a dance club, not a high-pressure singles environment, but something that can be comfortable for everyone.”
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