A Beer Bar and Arcade Could Be Coming to Boston
Four longtime friends who opened a series of bars that mix classic arcade video games with a variety of craft beers say they have been considering setting up shop in the Boston area sometime in the undetermined future.
Paul Kermizian, founder and co-operator of Barcade, literally a combination of a bar and an arcade, says the company would love to come to Massachusetts and find a location in or around Boston. “Boston is definitely a place that’s on the top of our list—not the very top—but in the next few cities we [open bars in], we would like to think of moving there,” he says. “It’s one of the places we have been watching the last few years. We haven’t seen anyone do it in Boston. But we are a small company, so we are moving at our own pace.”
The original Barcade started in Brooklyn in 2004 after Kermizian and friends were having drinks at his house—a place where a couple of classic games were set up—when suddenly, “a light bulb went off.”
“I had always talked about opening a bar, and I was a collector of classic games. They were popular when people would come over, and it was a fun combination that we hadn’t seen before anywhere else,” says Kermizian. Since they launched the initial bar in Brooklyn nine years ago, the company has since expanded to Philadelphia, Jersey City, and is in the midst of introducing a second New York location to Manhattan.
Barcade, which is a registered trademark so the company can corner the market and keep knock-offs from cropping up in cities with a similar play on the words, only serves American craft beer at each establishment, where they typically house anywhere from 30 to 40 video game machines, including PacMan and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles multi-player game.
Kermizian says it’s the “nostalgia” of the dated consoles that draw many people to the Barcades, while others merely come for the vast selection of drinks they have on tap. “We get a very dedicated following of craft beer lovers, so some just come for the beer and don’t even play the games. Others are dedicated to the games, and are serious gamers, and don’t pay attention to the beer list,” he says. And although it could take sometime before Boston sees anything like it, a little bit of Massachusetts has already made its way to Barcade’s New York and Philadelphia locations—Harpoon and Pretty Things are on draught.
Kermizian says the response to the Barcades has “been great,” however, in each city he has run into issues with licensing in order to obtain permits for videos games inside of the drinking establishments, something that could also be difficult to figure out in a city like Boston. “When we met with officials in Jersey City, we had to meet with the planning office to have some rules changed, which was a bit of work. But they were very receptive to us. We had better success in Philadelphia, where rules were already in place,” he says.
A call made to Boston’s licensing officials showed that in order to set up shop in the city, Barcade would need to seek approval for a beer-pouring permit from the Licensing Board, as well as an entertainment license for the games from the mayor’s Office of Consumers Affairs. But that’s something the brains behind the Barcade scene haven’t started digging into just quite yet. “Every city has its own arcade laws and liquor license laws, which can be challenging in its own right, so it’s not something we have even looked at it in terms of Boston yet,” says Kermizian, adding they have even considered looking into locating a Barcade in Cambridge or Somerville instead.
But the potential permitting process isn’t something that will scare them away from the area for good. “We have a couple of other places in mind first, but Boston would probably be one of the next two or three after [Manhattan],” he says.
Below are some more photos of the Barcade in Brooklyn: