Gaming & Technology

North Lexington bar has retro niche: arcade games

Sean Taylor, one of three owners of Arcadium, said he got the idea for an arcade-themed bar while living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Mark Mahan
Sean Taylor, one of three owners of Arcadium, said he got the idea for an arcade-themed bar while living in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Mark Mahan Lexington Herald-Leader

Two weeks ago here at Weekender Central, we lamented, as the Disney film Wreck-It Ralph opened, the long-lost arcade.

Little did we know that it already was making a comeback locally. Businesses here and there continue to have some games, but arcade titles are hardly a focus anywhere. Until now. A new bar that opened Thursday on North Limestone is filled with more than a dozen arcade games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Shinobi and WWF Superstars, and is looking for others.

The grand-opening party is Friday, but the bar opens Thursday with a Donkey Kong contest. The high-point winner receives three tickets to the University of Kentucky men's basketball team's home opener on Friday.

Arcadium is the brainchild of Sean Taylor and his friends Will Hinkle and Spears Hinkle, who are cousins. All three grew up in Paris.

"The idea spawned from a similar business in Brooklyn, N.Y.," said Taylor, who lived there for eight years before moving back to Kentucky. "We're friends with the two owners of the Barcade, and it came from an idea they had of craft beer and retro arcade games."

Will Hinkle was a civil engineer who "likes beer and likes video games."

"It sounds like a great idea," he said.

The price to play is just what it was when they were growing up in the 1980s: a quarter.

The trio bought a few of the arcade games through ads on Craigslist and drove around the region to pick them up and get them in shape for their revival.

"We got a couple from a motorcycle club north of Jeffersonville, Ind.," Will Hinkle said. "That was interesting."

As stereotypes might suggest, they weren't picking up Ms. Pac-Man from the bikers. Instead, they got the beat-'em-up classic Double Dragon and WWF Superstars.

They have 13 games in the bar now, and "there's a lot available out there," Taylor said.

On their wish list are classics Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off Road, Paperboy, Q*bert and Arkanoid.

Paired with the arcade games will be 20 American craft beers on tap, and one cask beer that is pumped by hand.

"We do have quite an extensive bourbon selection, too," Taylor said.

They have room to grow in their new digs in the former Spalding's Bakery, which was bought in 2009 and renovated in recent years by Chad Needham.

Former occupant John Lackey, an artist, has moved across the street to another building that Needham bought and renovated.

"They've built a really nice bar," Needham said, "and they really understand the north side and want to see it grow."

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