Video arcades disappeared from most Iowa towns a few decades ago, but some young entrepreneurs are bringing back games from the 1980s and 90s with a new business in Des Moines.
Radio Iowa’s Pat Curtis reports:
More than three dozen arcade games — including Pac Man, Centipede, Defender, and Galaga — now line the walls of a basement bar, just a few blocks west of the State Capitol. Twenty-nine-year-old Josh Ivey is co-owner of the business, Up-Down, with Rafe Mateer and Sam Summers. Ivey says the nostalgia theme goes well beyond the video games. “We have giant Connect Four and Jenga sets, we’re playing old TV shows on the TVs, and we have a drink menu with cheesy arcade-name drinks,” Ivey says. “It’s more about a feeling we’re trying to create here, rather than just an arcade.” The three friends also run a nearby live music venue called Wooly’s.
Up-Down opened this weekend. All of the games cost one quarter. Up-Down has six pinball machines, Nintendo games, and three skeeball alleys. Ivey says the person who owned the skeeball machines indicated they had been collecting dust in a warehouse after being housed at Adventureland many years ago. “He spent a lot time here…we repainted them, refurbished them, put all new lights and mechanisms in them. They’re running great and he’s just really excited to have them up and running like they should be,” Ivey said.
The “barcade” has 20 beers on tap and retro-inspired drinks such as the Super Mario-garita. Up-Down, located at 500 East Locust Street in Des Moines, is open daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.