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April 2015 Retro Gaming Article

April 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Not many arcades allow food or drinks, but only Level 257 offers a 5-course wine dinner

When I was hitting arcades in the 80's many owners considered food & drink the epitome of all evil. Kids had the habit of putting drinks on the control deck or on top of the cabinet, while playing a game. This led to a lot of spills - especially since most upright cabinets had sloped tops that instantly send extra-large sodas flowing down the back of the machine.

Absolutely no food or drinks allowed!
As you can imagine, that caused a lot of problems. In my town, the dedicated arcades had a NO FOOD OR DRINK policy. The exceptions were the bowling alley and Nathans Famous restaurants. Both served food, but kept it separate from the video games and pinball.

During Summer vacation, I found a pizza joint with a cocktail-style Tempest! My buddy and I ate there almost every day with a Coke and slice of pizza resting on the corner of the glass top.

Namco's Level 257 Restaurant

We heard about an upcoming Namco experiment about 2 years ago. They were looking to create a gaming themed restaurant that melded fine dining with video games. Now open outside Chicago, Level 257 is delivering a high-end dining experience coupled with gaming. This isn't like dining at the bowling alley next to a few arcade games. They offer an array of gaming options from Pac-Man to board games... all with hors d'oeuvres!

Inspired by Namco's classic 1980s video game PAC-MAN, and named for the game's legendary final level 256 kill-screen that few have ever experienced, Level 257, the next level in dining and entertainment, is a multifaceted urban-chic space where food takes center stage and play is encouraged.

Level 257 offers a 5-course wine dinner Don't feel left out if your local arcade isn't offering a 5-course wine dinner. This seems like an amazing way to "raise the bar" on what an arcade experience can be! Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters began business just a few years apart. Either could be credited with starting the idea of a restaurant being a gaming destination.

Where I'm seeing the most innovation is with the barcade explosion. These guys are melding retro games with a full service bar. While Chuck and Dave seem to offer modern video games and redemption, barcades are becoming the hardcore option for those seeking nightlife and Galaga! There seems to be a resurgence of interest from both gamers and entrepreneurs.

Ask your local bar to check out the potential profits from a Game Night!
I'm excited to see what Level 257 does. With a restarant, a barrage of varied video games, and an in-house retail store full of Pac-Man collectables, this is more than an arcade. I see them offering a new type of gaming experience with similarities to other ventures, but also enticing higher-end patrons into the mix. All of these arcade-inspired business start ups may well bring video game arcades back into vogue in a more mainstream manner.

I get very excited at the possibility of an arcade renaissance. I keep reading about new arcades, barcades and gaming events companies sprouting up to the delight of locals. Who wouldn't love a local game-oriented destination? It feels like we're on the cusp of a new social gaming experience. What if your favorite bar began having a weekly Mario Kart tournament or Street fighter? Suggest it to your favorite local bar and check out how Games Done Legit has infused gaming into a wide variety of Cleveland destinations!

Level 257 Level Up Card From the Level 257 website:
Level 257 is the brainchild of a few minds at Namco Entertainment Inc. Known around the world for providing arcade design and delivery, they wanted to find the next great entertainment concept, the next level of play.

We wanted to turn the conventions of a restaurant and entertainment venue on their head and create something that is equally exciting in both areas. Taking socialization as the key theme for it all, we aim to provide you with the most unique dining and entertainment experience that encourages play and friendly competition with an exceptional food service, in a chic and comfortable environment.

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