Paul Kermizian, owner of Brooklyn gaming bars the Gutter and Barcade, will be opening a Barcade on Newark Avenue in Jersey City soon. The bar/restaurant will have 1970s- and 1980s-era video games for patrons to play.
For a generation of Jersey City residents who grew up gaming at the now-defunct arcade and Discovery Fun Zone in the Hudson Mall, their only recourse has been to reminisce on Facebook. One such page has more than 700 fans and an active discussion about the games now gone from the Route 440 Pizza Hut and Newport Centre mall.
Older now, the gamers will soon have an opportunity to embrace that nostalgia like a joystick at Barcade, the second outpost of the Brooklyn craft beer bar and ’80s arcade soon to open at 163 Newark Ave.
Renovations of the former Washington Mutual space at the corner of Barrow Street will begin in a few weeks, though unlike the case with owner Paul Kermizian’s first bar, he won’t be doing all the work himself. When Barcade opened in Williamsburg in 2004, Kermizian and four partners gutted the space and chronicled the construction on their website.
Now on their third establishment, following the 2007 opening of Brooklyn bowling alley bar the Gutter, they’re more focused on the details.
“We are designing the space and will be working more on the finishing work rather than the knocking down walls work as we were back then,” he said.
Construction on the old Washington Mutual branch at 163 Newark Ave. in Jersey City is scheduled to begin in a few weeks to transform the spot into Barcade, a craft beer bar/arcade that will offer 1970s- and 1980-vintage games.
Those details include supplying the bar with wind power, sourcing the vintage video game cabinets that have become increasingly difficult to find over the last six years and crafting their first menu. They’re looking forward to serving food — a challenge they were unprepared for with their first bar.
And while still unsure if they’ll maintain lunch hours during the week, they plan to open at noon on weekends and will offer outdoor seating.
Kermizian has said he’d been interested in a space in Jersey City since last year and he sees some similarities between the Downtown locale and Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.
“In Williamsburg we are able to draw from a wide variety of people, both long time residents and young creative types, who may enjoy great beer or classic games, or both,” he said. “I sense a similarly growing mix of people in Jersey City and it feels like a really exciting time to be opening.”
The establishment will have a full liquor license to accompany the local beers on tap that have earned the original Barcade the “Good Beer Seal,” an award given to independently owned bars committed to serving 80 percent craft beers, employing a staff well-informed in them, and engaging in charitable actions throughout the year.
“At any time, we generally dedicate at least three-quarters of our taps to local beers, meaning anything produced within a maybe five-hour drive,” Kermizian said. “Like in Brooklyn, there will be a big focus on NJ, NY and PA beers. And all the taps will be American-made craft beers.”
Like nearby Zeppelin Hall, Barcade will only serve draft beers.
“We do not serve bottles or cans,” Kermizian added.
But Kermizian and his partners are aware of the local competition.
“We already know there is a market for drinking great beer,” he said. “We just hope there is a market for playing Gauntlet while drinking great beer.”
Just don’t expect games with more violence than wizards and warriors battling ghosts and grunts. The focus will be on classic titles from the late ’70s and ’80s, like Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
“We will not have any of the modern fighting or shooting games that got popular in the last 10-15 years,” Kermizian said.
It’s not that they’re worried violent games breed violent patrons.
“It mostly just leads to loudness and banging on the games,” he said. “And we don’t like that.”