Fishtown's Barcade ready to play

Fishtown adds an­oth­er high pro­file des­tin­a­tion to its ranks with Bar­cade, set to open next week.

“Come on down! We’ve got Frog­ger, Smash TV, Ms. Pac­man, Out­run and Pa­per­boy! All for just 25 cents!” 

At some point in the ’80s, these words might have been shouted by someone tout­ing the state of the art cap­ab­il­it­ies of the nearest en­ter­tain­ment ven­ue. 

Now, it’s the mat­ing call of the video game en­thu­si­ast, and it’s go­ing to be heard loud and clear on Frank­ford Av­en­ue with the open­ing of Bar­cade — a bar and ar­cade busi­ness that has grown in pop­ular­ity since the first out­post opened in 2004 in Wil­li­ams­burg, a neigh­bor­hood in Brook­lyn, N.Y.

The re­peated tones of Mario, stomp­ing his way to­ward Don­key Kong for the mil­lionth time, or the scoot­ing, high-pitched chirp of in­vaders des­cend­ing on Earth en masse, step by min­is­cule step; these are tones that perk the ears of any­one who grew up bask­ing in the glow of a video ar­cade screen. 

And soon, these sounds will flut­ter from a re­stored elec­tric­al sup­ply build­ing at 1114 Frank­ford Ave.

Bar­cade was sched­uled for a soft open­ing with fam­ily and friends this week­end, and will be fully open to the pub­lic by the middle of next week.

With an ad­di­tion­al loc­a­tion re­cently opened in Jer­sey City, the five own­ers, all long­time friends, set their sights on the Phil­adelphia loc­a­tion more than a year ago. 

On Wed­nes­day, Sept. 28, Pete Lang­way, 41, one of the co-own­ers, led a tour of the soon to open loc­a­tion to dis­cuss why the own­er felt Fishtown was the right place to ex­pand their busi­ness.

“Well, we ac­tu­ally passed on this place the first time we saw it. We thought it would be too much of a chal­lenge,” said Lang­way as he walked through the large open in­teri­or of the bar where ex­posed brick is fit­ted with neon signs. 

“My friend first de­scribed this as a ‘glor­i­fied shack,’” re­called Lang­way. “It was a dis­aster. It really took us a bit of ef­fort to get it to look like this.” 

But, he said, when the own­ers toured the com­munity after passing up on Old City, Gradu­ate Hos­pit­al and West Philly, they felt at home in Fishtown.

“We looked at oth­er places. But, Fishtown is a lot like Brook­lyn. Once we found Fishtown, it was like we were in the same kind of place.” 

In look­ing at the flood of new places com­ing to Fishtown as well as Uni­on Trans­fer, a new mu­sic ven­ue on Spring Garden Street, Lang­way said he’s see­ing a groundswell he’s glad to be part of. 

“It’s ex­cit­ing. It’s good for busi­ness,” he said. “It’s great to a part of that swell.” 

There’s been buzz for months about the open­ing of the new loc­a­tion and Lang­way said last week that all that re­mains is some fi­nal city pa­per­work. 

Bar­cade will form­ally be open to the pub­lic on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 12, said Lang­way.

In­side the es­tab­lish­ment, Lang­way wandered through the large open front area, where there is seat­ing and large front win­dows that will be open on nice days, to the back area where 34 ar­cade games stand like sol­diers in a row, ready to fight a battle against the forces of bore­dom. 

Along with those men­tioned above, the line up of titles in­cludes clas­sics like Tron (based on the ori­gin­al Dis­ney movie), puzzle game Tet­ris, Beer Tap­per, and R-Type, widely known as one of the most dif­fi­cult shoot­er games any­where. 

But, Lang­way’s fa­vor­ite game? Car­ni­val, a shoot­er game from 1980. 

“It’s really ba­sic and old, but I’m get­ting very good,” he boas­ted. 

In­side, the es­tab­lish­ment ex­pects to be able to host about 160 pat­rons, and there’s also an out­door patio. 

Along with the clas­sic fun of the ar­cade games, Lang­way said Bar­cade also in­tends to be a fant­ast­ic beer bar with over 24 beers on tap — many loc­ally brewed. 

“Our philo­sophy is to be a good bar that has really good beer,” he said. 

Also, Bar­cade will of­fer a kit­chen with a se­lec­tion of food, with a fo­cus on sand­wiches. 

“If you have a beer in one hand, you’ll have to be able to play video games with the oth­er,” he said. 

Over­all, Bar­cade’s been suc­cess­ful and Lang­way said that’s simply be­cause he be­lieves he and his friends have tapped in­to a unique for­mula: “On the Venn dia­gram of beer geeks and ar­cade geeks, there’s def­in­itely a huge over­lap,” said Lang­way.••

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­

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