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Barcade’ to open in downtown Columbus

Courtesy of MCT

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Columbus residents will soon be able to have a night on the town with the likes of Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man. 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, downtown’s first “barcade,” is set to open this July on Fourth Street.

Troy Allen, the bar’s owner, said 16-Bit Bar+Arcade is described as being an upscale, retro arcade-bar designed to bring the fun of video games to the downtown nightlife. Classic games such as “Street Fighter II Turbo”, “Mortal Kombat” and “NBA Jam” will be available for free play for all customers.

Allen discovered his first arcade-bar while visiting a friend in Chicago. Allen said he thought Columbus would be an ideal spot for an arcade-bar because of the city’s growing tech community. 

“From a business standpoint, it is a wide demographic,” Allen said. “You have your people in their 30s and early 40s that grew up on the games. But Columbus, really being a younger tech town, can appreciate that older technology as well.”

16-Bit Bar+Arcade will feature about 55 games that will be in a rotating lineup on the bar floor, Allen said, and added that he plans to continue to explore new ideas for games and encourages any suggestions from customers.

“It is going to be a constantly evolving lineup. We want people to request games,” Allen said. “We are going to listen to everybody and listen to what they want and then evolve as we go.”

16-Bit Bar+Arcade will be located at 254 S. Fourth St., and Allen said he is excited about the location. 

“I have been able to watch downtown kind of come back and start to thrive again. I wanted to be going into a space that was either a revitalization or up-and-coming,” Allen said. “With our concept and the demographic and the crowd we are going after, Fourth Street is the natural setting.”

There will be small tables between each of the games for people to set down drinks, phones and purses, Allen said. He added that the tech-friendly bar will also have many outlets and USB ports to charge cellphones and other electronic devices. 

16-Bit Bar+Arcade will not have a kitchen to serve food, but Allen said guests are welcome to bring in food from the surrounding restaurants and food trucks. He mentioned that Dirty Franks Hot Dog Palace is next door. 

Some students had mixed reactions to the idea of the bar.

Trevor Barth, a first-year in health sciences, said the retro-style video games could potentially draw a large audience.

“It would probably attract a lot of young college kids because they want to go play the games and even some older guys that don’t get to see those games anymore,” Barth said. “They are childhood games. It would definitely be interesting.” 

Brad Lewis, a first-year in biomedical engineering, said he thinks the idea for the barcade is interesting, but was uncertain that a bar like 16-Bit Bar+Arcade would be popular.

“There is nothing like that around here right now, so it is hard to know how well it would do because it’s so different,” Lewis said.

16-Bit Bar+Arcade is set to plug in and open up on July 5. 

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