WESTFIELD, NJ — A crowd of families lined up outside of YESTERcades in Downtown Westfield Friday night to be the first to play Pac-Man, Street Fighter, Space Invaders and other classic video and arcade games.
Located at 151 East Broad St. (formerly City Sports), it is the company’s third location.
YESTERcades describes itself as gaming experience straight out of the “golden age of gaming.” In addition to about 130 arcade games, the Westfield locaiton offers six flat screen TVs and a rear-projection TV with modern and classic game consoles, pinball machines, air hockey, pool tables and even checkers.
For owner Ken Kalada, the business is a childhood dream come true.
“When I was a kid there were three things that I wanted to do when I was grown up,” he said. “Own a toy store, own a ski resort or own an arcade.”
Kalada opened the first YESTERcades location in Red Bank in 2011 and a second in Somerville in 2013.
“I looked in Westfield before I looked in Somerville,” Kalada said.
But it wasn’t until June 2017 that the Westfield Town Council voted to allow arcades downtown after they were previously banned during the 1970s.
Kalada hopes that YESTERcades will complement the other businesses downtown.
“People are coming here to have a good time. Even if it’s just an hour, they’re escaping their daily lives,” he said. “People come in and they haven’t seen some of these games in 30 years. I love to see the smile that comes across their faces.”
The combination of new and nostalgic games is an opportunity for parents and kids to bond, too.
“It really bridges that generation gap,” Kalada said.
No quarters, tokens or cards are necessary to play at YESTERcades: Patrons pay $8.75 per hour or $25 per day to play all they want. Party packages are also available.
“Much thanks to the Town of Westfield building department, under the leadership of Steve Freedman, to get their inspections in time for their planned opening,” Downtown Westfield Corporation Executive Director Sherry Cronin said. “They really came through for them.”
She also thanked the town council for changing the law to allow an arcade to open downtown.
“It’s nice to see so much activity and excitement, especially during spring break,” she added.
Learn more about YESTERcades at www.yestercades.com.