RecBar Opens this Friday, Apr. 15th

RecBar

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

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.

Find out more about RecBar at their website or on Facebook. Also, Nerd Louisville thrives on donations to bring you this content. Please consider donating to our cause using the button below.

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Date Night: Beat My High Score

Nerd Louisville Date Night

Date Night: Beat My High Score

Written by Brandon Stettenbenz; Featured artwork and photography by Mike Pfaff

Good ol’ arcade rivalry can spice up any romance. Just don’t gloat too much or you might lose that loving feeling. My wife and I have had more than one spat over who’s the better joystick jockey, but it’s our shared passion for all things nerdy and a playful, gamer rivalry that keeps our relationship strong and spicy, just the way we like it.

Inside Zanzabar in Germantown the nostalgia is as palpable as the smell of fries and burgers. Pinball machines ding and whoosh while the juke-box controlled ceiling speakers blare classic rock, punk, metal, and hip hop. It’s no Flynn’s Arcade in terms of scale, but there’s also no brats crowding the “Space Paranoids” machine. That’s the beauty of a “Barcade”: it’s not Chucky Cheese. When we’re on a date, we want to re-live the joys of our childhood and not hangout with children.

Pinball Zanzabar
Ariel scores a lot of points while Brandon looks on with concern.

If your date plans include dinner, Zanzabar’s diner faire is on par with the best greasy spoons I’ve ever had the guilty pleasure of gorging myself on. Sandwiches, pizza, and general American is what they do and they do it well. Start with the Pterodactyl wings (nerd for big chicken) and work your way up to Magic Galaxy Tacos, Fozzie Bear’s Kimchi Pie (a spicy pizza featuring locally made kimchi), or the Mata Hari Hot Brown. Top it all off with a cast-iron skillet Death Star Cookie.

Add a good selection of rotating drafts from lagers to stouts to hoppy IPAs, a fully stocked bar with a tasteful bourbon selection, and a respectable collection of arcade cabinets and pinball machines from the 70’s and 80’s (with a few outliers made in the 90’s), and you’ve got Louisville’s answer to the world-famous Barcade franchise, originated in New York. Dinner, drinks, and arcade games make for an awesome nerd date, especially if you throw in some friendly, flirty competition.

My specialties are Galaga and pinball machines that came out after 1980. There’s just something about destroying space bugs on a CRT screen that gets me pumped. In the past, I’ve dropped some serious coin on The Adams Family, The Who’s Pinball Wizard, and Star Wars pinball. Basically, if it was made in the era of “personal computers”, has a ton of lights (Ooooh shiny), and is based on a franchise I enjoy, I’m excited to play it. If you see RAD in the high scores, it’s probably me.

My wife enjoys Joust, the original Star Wars 6-axis stick, and The Machine [Bride of Pinbot]. The latter isn’t because she’s showing solidarity with lady bots – they just happen to have that machine and it’s way fun. We’re both Rogue Jedi’s at heart but she’s way better on the joystick than I am. Even with three attack phases (chances) and two decades of modern FPS, I’m just no threat to the original Death Star. I’m also a paltry squire of an ostrich knight, while she’s deadly with a lance in Joust.

Nerdy Date Night
Ariel with a little playful trash talk to Brandon during a game of Star Wars pinball.

You’ve probably assumed rightly, that she picks harder games because she’s a badass. Her timing is way better than mine at slow paced games. She’s patient and strategic, while I’m a button masher. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play nice. We just take turns burying each other’s high score, or slide over to the Rampage cabinet and take our frustrations out on an unsuspecting populace, cooperatively.

Although we have different tastes in games and styles of play, we enjoy challenging each other to adapt. Keeping in the service of romance, not ego, we keep those challenges light-hearted. Small jabs and light gloating keep us on our toes while we quote Star Wars, Star Trek, and other fandoms. If you like to talk nerdy to your man or lady, this is the place for it. Diner food, nostalgia, booze, and your best guy or gal; what more can you ask for?

Tips:

  • Keep your competition friendly. Passion is great for romantic connections but rage quitting makes for an awkward date.
  • Avoid going on Louisville Pinball League nights (Fridays)
  • Zanzabar is also a venue, so on many weekend nights there’s a cover, music, and half the games are obscured by the stage and crowd. However, they’re expanding soon to a second adjacent building that will house the venue biz.
  • Games rotate, so be open minded about trying new games.
  • This is a real arcade setup, so bring cash for the quarter machine!
Zanzabar Arcade
Brandon trying to beat Ariel's score on Ms. Pac Man.

Date Night is aimed at other nerdy couples who are looking for fun date ideas. We hope to have more articles like this in the future. Have an idea for a date night? Reach out to us. Also, Nerd Louisville thrives on donations to bring you this content. Please consider donating to our cause using the button below.

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Episode 9 – Louisville Pinball League [Explicit]

Louisville Pinball League

Episode 9 – Louisville Pinball League

Disclaimer: this podcast has some explicit language and you can probably hear a beer can opening in the background. You have been warned. 

In this episode, we talk with Janet Stevens, Antz Wettig, Jason Bradley, and Chris Renninger of the Louisville Pinball League. The Louisville Pinball League is an official PAPA sanctioned league that goes for 8 weeks.

Signups for the next pinball season begins April 8 (plus, there will be a tournament) and the games begin on April 15th. Games are played every Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Zanzabar

Antz: “If you mention this podcast walking in the door, introduce yourself to Antz, Jon, or Vern and I will buy you a beer.”

Highlights:

  • Introductions: Janet Stevens; Antz Wettig; Jason Bradley; Chris Renninger
  • The birth of the Louisville Pinball League in 2010
  • Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom and Pagans
  • Collecting pinball machines
  • “It’s where the fun’s at!”
  • Louisville Arcade Expo
  • The first board of Donkey Kong vs. starting at pinballs
  • Luck vs. Skill in pinball
  • The Chris vs. Janet rivalry begins
  • The Ted Nugent pinball machine
  • The social game of pinball and how it’s a great bar game
  • Tuesday night pinball tournaments and the over-30 and reasonable crowd
  • Rogue tournaments and Rogue League
  • Jason Bradley, the Pinball King of Louisville, and his mythology and trading card
  • Janet’s introduction to the league and her expansive pinball history
  • Janet’s story is interrupted with a brief explanation of how the tournaments work
  • Scheduling of the tournaments
  • Louisville Arcade Expo and how amazing that convention is
  • How handsome Antz is for his age
  • International Flipper Association
  • Billy Mitchell and the King of Kong
  • The rivalry between Janet and Chris heats up!
  • Drew, aka Booski, a member of the league and savant, the flying red tomato and the Vegas National Tournaments
  • Getting robbed in Vegas
  • Transitioning the Kentucky tournaments to Louisville from Cincinnati
  • How players are split up in a tournament
  • Janet meets Richard Shapiro and he gets her into some tournaments, she wins a bunch of them
  • The Outlook Inn’s pinball machines
  • Jason makes the point Antz couldn’t make earlier; beginners can win with some luck against better players
  • The ability to drop out of two games in the league
  • “You can know zero about pinball and still have fun.”
  • Janet invites women to come out to join the pinball league so Team “V” has more support
  • The Team “V” shirt
Antz and his brother.
If you were curious about that Team V shirt.
  • Professional naked photo shoots
  • What someone, particularly women, should do to join the league
  • Antz explains how Zanzabar rolls out the red carpet for pinball players
  • Young folks who want to play should come with a guardian and before 8 p.m.
  • Jason explains some other game types played between league seasons, like pinball golf
  • There is sometimes a 50/50 male to female ratio at tournaments
  • Jason plugs pinballmap.com – if you see a pinball machine somewhere, tell him about it
  • Chris plugs LouisvillePinball.com
  • We discuss drinking beer not drinking beer
  • Janet vouches for the safety of Zbar for women
  • Zbar listed as one of the top 10 arcade bars
  • The growth of pinball bars, the passion behind the pinball machines at Zbar and how it wasn’t the business plan
  • April 8th at 7 p.m. is League Signup; April 15th if the first week of the league
  • The Nerd Louisville bump
  • Listen to the very end to find out who is better, Janet or Chris

The Crew:

  • Mike Pfaff

Intro / Outro music is The White of Noon by STRFKR, graciously provided with permission by Polyvinyl Records.