RecBar Opens this Friday, Apr. 15th
RecBar Opens this Friday, Apr. 15th
Written by Brandon Stettenbenz
RecBar, a new restaurant / barcade, will open its doors to the public this Friday at 9 p.m. One side of RecBar is just an arcade, including stand up cabinets and table games, like foosball, skeeball, and even the racer game Cruisin’ with seats and steering wheel. When everything is up and running, co-owners Corey Sims and Tony Thomas expect to have more than 40 games, including 35 stand up arcades, six pinball machines, and table games. The other side is a large dining room that opens up via a garage-style door to a covered deck area.
Ample space is one of the reasons these J-Town residents chose to open their concept in their neighborhood.
“It’s our own backyard so we know the families here, and the area is untapped for something like this,” Corey said. “Third Turn Brewery just opened and they’ve been doing well, so that was encouraging to us.”
Corey emphasized that RecBar is not a typical barcade, but a restaurant+barcade combination concept influenced by his and Tony’s experience in the food service industry. The idea for RecBar stemmed from their foray into game vending with one Golden Tee machine at Fourth Street Live.
“Tony and I purchased [the Golden Tee game] back in 2009 just as a way to earn extra income,” Corey said. “And we saw how well it was doing and how much people gathered around it, how they enjoyed socializing in a bar atmosphere with the game tied [to that experience].”
The success of their single stand-up cabinet gave them the bug. They started collecting retro cabinets, then began seeing barcade concepts spring up in NYC and Chicago. It took them four years to do research, build their game collection, and find the right location. Several restaurants have been in the building in the past 12 years, most recently The Blue Mule and then Bacon Bar. Finding a place with restaurant bones that could be re-used, getting the games together, and financing influenced their timing. Though, they felt that Louisville had been ready for their concept for a while.
“The shell of the building we used and built off of, aiming for a sort of industrial feel; you can see the reclaimed wood behind the bar,” Corey said. “I’ve seen a lot of 80’s vibe [in barcades], but we wanted to strip that down to blend with the restaurant concept. RecBar is not just a game bar. We see easy to eat and shareable items as part of the group experience just like games.”
Both owners also have kids under five, and Corey stressed that RecBar will cater to families welcoming all ages until 10 p.m.
“[Our kids] think it’s fun and they want to play the games even though they’re not familiar with it,” he said. “We expect a lot of local families.”
On weekends they plan to stay open as late as the crowd demands, possibly up to the local 4 a.m. cutoff. They’re feeling it out right now and estimate closing sometime between midnight to 2 a.m. on weekdays to start. Corey said there’s a lot of Hurstbourne corridor service industry crowd, so they’ll stay open later if they can attract that crowd.
RecBar will also cater to the sports crowd, particularly UofL and UK fans, but Corey stressed that the sound will only be on for big games. In the back, there will be a lounge with classic consoles from Nintendo (NES) to N64, and they’re considering competition nights for games like Smash Brothers and Mario Kart. Corey said that Mario 3 is probably his favorite classic console game. When I asked, he was hard pressed to pick just one favorite game on the floor:
“We just traded for a pinball at arcade expo, it’s called Teed Off,” he said. “It’s sort of a Caddy Shack knock off. They didn’t get the rights so they had to sort of fake it. There’s a gopher up top. As far as cabinets, this cocktail table called Warlords. You defend your territory in the four corners [4 players] from a dragon’s fireball, pong style.”
That kind of game and the 4-6 player arcade beat-em-up games like Ninja Turtles, Simpsons, and X-men are what they built the RecBar concept around; a shared entertainment experience. Focusing more on the big 90’s Capcom and Konami arcade cabinets also sets them apart from the retro concept of the other barcades in Louisville. From families to groups of friends enjoying a late night, Corey and crew want people to come together around the games. Ultimately, RecBar is about enjoying yourself and being social.