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16-Bit Bar+Arcade Opening Downtown This Summer

Walker Evans Walker Evans 16-Bit Bar+Arcade Opening Downtown This Summer
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The blossoming stretch of South Fourth Street in Downtown Columbus will be gaining another new independent business this summer as the 16-Bit Bar+Arcade opens its doors to customers. This new nightlife venture will feature several dozen classic arcade cabinets and a 80s-nostalgia themed cocktail and craft beer bar menu.

“I discovered the retro bar-arcade concept in Chicago last year and have found a couple more around country,” says 16-Bit’s owner Troy Allen. “I look at a lot of businesses when traveling and wonder if they’re viable for Columbus, and I couldn’t get this concept out of my head.”

Allen said that he began researching the business model and searched for spaces in The Short North, Brewery District and Grandview Heights before deciding upon the Downtown space at 254 South Fourth Street next to Dirty Frank’s.

“I used to live in the Brewery District and I’ve been watching Downtown come to life again,” says Allen. “The idea of opening another business Downtown is really what attracted me to pursuing this.”

Allen’s background is in marketing and design, and as the founder of ELEVATE thinking, a creative firm located in The Arena District, he knows a thing or two about operating and growing a new business.

The 16-Bit Bar+Arcade is described as being slightly more upscale than a traditional arcade. Roughly 45 original arcade cabinets have been purchased, and between 35 and 40 will be available for play at any given time, with new games rotating in and out of play on a regular basis. All games will be set to “free play”, so you’re able to spend your spare quarters on drinks at the bar instead.

“The concept is nostalgia-driven and spans multiple audiences,” says Allen. “There are people like myself in their late 30s or early 40s  that grew up in that era as well as a younger tech-community demographic that loves old school technology.”

The 16-Bit Bar+Arcade will not serve food, but plans to collaborate both with neighboring restaurants as well as food trucks to offer different types of options on different nights of the week. Additional theme nights will revolve around video game competitions featuring popular older games such as Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam.

Additional games in the initial roster include Galaga, Space Invaders, Rampage, Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Mario Bros, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Centipede, BurgerTime, Asteroids, Cruisin’ USA, The Simpsons, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and more.

The 16-bit Bar+Arcade is scheduled to open on Friday, July 5th.

More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/16BitBar.

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  • GCrites80s

    Diggin’ this! I wanted to do one of these myself but know it would be years before I would have access to the sort of capital needed. Those Simpsons and Turtles machines are going to get some serious buttons mashed!

  • There’s an amazing bar/arcade called John-John’s in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. They have a game called Zeke’s Peak. By the end of my stay in Seattle I was very addicted to it. I’d love it if these guys had one :D

  • I’ve been saying to myself for years now that if I had the time, money and knowhow, I’d open up a barcade. Seeing as I have none of those three requirements, I’m happy that someone else is finally doing it instead! And I love the mix of early-80s games and mid-90s games. The only thing missing from the initial lineup is Street Fighter II!

  • jpizzow

    This. Is. Awesome.

  • CbusCPA

    I’ve been to Emporium in Chicago and Barcade in Brooklyn and both did very, very well. The DF, Little Palace, and El Camino crowd has to be welcoming this news with wide open arms.

  • I love it. We were just talking the other day about how we’d love an arcade in town. Places like Dave & Buster’s are fun, but more classic games and a locally-owned spot sounds much better. I think it’s a perfect addition to the 4th St. stretch.

  • leftovers

    Hopefully there is a new end of year category for “Best craft beers in an arcade setting”. ;)

  • Yeti22

    “You have to use your hands”?

  • bferriot

    Don’t forget Battlezone, Joust, and Tempest!

  • Saint Murrays

    No, this was my idea first ;)

    Glad to see this happening and excited to smash some buttons with a nice pint!

  • drew

    It’s a great idea and a very clever location, I think.

  • FoodFort

    Nice to hear about this project moving forward.

  • ricospaz

    I can’t wait for this. Combines two of my favorite hobbies, drinking and gaming.

  • catnfiddle

    If there is pinball, I’m going to need a second job.

  • Jason Lemon Lyman

    The best part about this whole thing is the “Free to play” concept! I spent a LOT of time in Arcades as a kid/teen. This is an amazing concept, and I can’t wait to try it out. Put some Tempest in there!

  • Mister Shifter

    Can’t wait!!!

  • Wootie

    SO GREAT. I’ve been going to Barcade in Brooklyn ever since it opened and have long wished we had something like it here. I always thought the concept would work well in this market. I envisioned the Garden District as the best location, but the site they’ve picked is excellent, especially since it’s only a few blocks from where I work. :-)

  • Putting in my wish list for…

    Dark stalkers, MK 2, and Killer Instinct

  • Brendan

    Excellent! One step towards the past I love so much. I hope the concept works!

  • Roland

    Love this concept. Street Fighter and Killer Instinct would be fun additions.

    I hope they consider some weekend morning options that would be a little more kid oriented. Would love to bring in my son and have him experience the old school arcade games in full glory mode.

  • I’d also love to see a mid-90s light gun game or two. Maybe 1995’s Time Crisis 1? ;)

  • I’m never going to get near that Galaga game, am I? Love the free to play concept, but wondering if there’s a time limit on games …

  • mrpoppinzs

    ^^ Never thought of that but quarters are the parking meters of Arcades. If it becomes a problem I foresee them giving out free tokens with some limits.

  • jpizzow


  • CbusToLV

    The concept has worked well in a few cities(nicely done in LV http://www.insertcoinslv.com/), and should thrive at this specific location in Columbus. Can’t wait to check it out on my next visit! Just hope they include the old school sit down Pizza Hut style Pac Man and some good pinball.

  • I cannot put together the words for this amount of awesomeness yet. Woohoo YAY :)

  • [email protected]

    They are too late!! The Gaming Grid opened a few months ago and has over 50 games!! http://Www.gaminggrid.info

  • Wootie

    Hyteck9, that’s not even close to the same business model! All the same, thanks for the link, didn’t know about that place, looks very cool. I’m sure there’s room enough for both establishments!

  • HogRoaster

    Yeah, a couple small differences from their policy page:

    4) Family venue. No alcohol, drugs or guns.
    5) Keep drinks away from games please.

    Cost: $108 for 60 minutes.

    Very different business models. I hope.

  • Awesome. Ditto what Roland said about bringing my kids in. Maybe afternoons so I can have a grown up beverage whilst we play. Happy to hear about this great use for my old office space.

  • billiejean

    Best news of 2013. Hands down.

  • I am so excited about this!
    On the other hand I’m going to get really mad when someone hogs X-Men.
    That impatient internal voice I had as a kid is going to rear her ugly head again. (when is it going to be my turn?)

  • DavidF

    I’d love to see a game room like the old one at the Max and Erma’s that was off of East Livingston. It was an awesome room full of pinball machines right off of the bar.

    Of course back then, those were new machines, but still…

  • Fantastic! TMNT! All of them! and maybe the Simpsons arcade game too. My wife and I are going to love this place. Finally! Hopefully they have some pinball too.

  • Fingers crossed for The Simpsons and Operation Wolf. Really looking forward to this.

  • emilyjanel2010

    So I’m assuming 21+?

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