NEWARK, NJ - Saturday was the much-anticipated grand opening of Barcade, the combination bar and arcade famous for its classic video games and American craft beer.
There's been plenty of buzz surrounding the opening of the popular bar—Newarkers have been eagerly awaiting its arrival in a city that is fast becoming an attractive destination.
Barcade, located on Broad Street in downtown Newark, is the newest bar to hit the increasingly popular neighborhood, with hip residential spaces and trendy retail spots steadily popping up on every corner of the newly-revitalized area.
The bar is housed inside a cavernous space with an industrial look, complete with exposed duct work, cement support columns and high ceilings. About thirty beers are on tap, with exotic names like Harpoon Sriracha Blonde, Brooklyn Kiwi’s Playhouse, Climax and Victory White Monkey.
And then there are the vintage games—Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bubble Bobble, Centipede and Donkey Kong, just to name a few—a Gen X'ers dream come true.
There’s a full menu, too—comfort food items like Chicken and Waffle Grilled Cheese, sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas, sliders, fried chicken and barbecue pulled pork.
The newest location is Barcade’s seventh, with others in Brooklyn, Chelsea, the East Village, Philadelphia, Jersey City and New Haven, Connecticut.
Barcade is the brainchild of four friends—Paul Kermizian, Pete Langway and brothers Kevin and Scott Beard—who came up with the idea from their nights together drinking craft beer and playing ‘80s video games.
At the time of the opening, the Beard brothers were working in graphic design, Langway in advertising and Kermizian in film and television, and had just completed directing the feature film “American Beer,” a road trip documentary profiling the American craft beer industry.
Although the partners had little restaurant or bar experience, the dream was calling, and the beer and game-filled nights inspired the group to go for it. They quit their day jobs and began work on their first location—a warehouse and garage located in Brooklyn—and opened in 2004.
According to Kermizian, the partners had been eyeing Newark for several years.
“We had been considering Newark for some time,” Kermizian said. “I think we started coming out and looking around about two years ago. Clearly there is a lack of nightlife for a lot of reasons, but great potential for nightlife to return, so we saw a good opportunity to be a part of that revival.”
Each Barcade location has approximately 50 games, said Kermizian, mostly classic video games from the '80s and '90s. Pinball machines have been added as well, with five at the Newark location.
Beers are solely draft and craft, and the full kitchen can churn out a wide variety of dishes.
“Our beer selection is draft only and only American craft breweries, with a focus on local and regional brewers,” Kermizian said. “We also have a full liquor selection with some house cocktails. The Newark location has a full kitchen with sandwiches, some salads, small plates and wings. This location also has pizza so we are doing a selection of bar pies.”
General Manager Mike DeSimone said the downtown location was ripe for a venture like Barcade.
“It’s a very corporate area,” DeSimone said. “During the week, it’s very busy. We’re thinking we’ll be more of a lunch and happy hour kind of spot, and then also get really busy on the weekends.”
According to DeSimone, the bar is something of a pioneer as the city goes through its rapid revitalization.
“That’s why we’re here—to kind of jumpstart this area,” he said. “There are lots of shops and condos in the area and a lot is happening over the next few years.”
Kermizian said he wanted to open a location specifically in the downtown area. In addition, the Broad Street location—previously a restaurant and bar—made the buildout process easier.
“Because of the games, our concept requires a good deal more square footage than a typical bar, so we always need to find space that’s a little on the larger size, which can be tough to find,” he said. “Also, it’s a great location being right near the light rail and the Broad Street station. Plus, there is a parking garage in the building.”
Bartender Ciara Zelaya said she’s excited to be a part of Barcade’s first Newark venture.
“It’s been fun and really exciting,” she said. “I’m happy that we’re finally open. We’re hoping for a big crowd tonight.”
DeSimone noted the no-brainer concept of the business.
“It’s arcade games and beer,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to screw that up.”
Kermizian expressed confidence in Barcade's success and is excited to finally have landed in Newark.
"We have a pretty relaxed atmosphere," he said. "Anyone who is into video games and craft beer should enjoy it. We are exactly as our name implies, a bar with an arcade, and I think just that alone will set us apart. We’re very happy to be in Newark and just want to fit in and be a positive part of the city."