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Bar/arcade seeks to open in Factory Square in Southington

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SOUTHINGTON — A group of friends, including four brothers, recently received approval to open a video game arcade and bar at Factory Square.

The Zoning Board of Appeals gave GameCraft approval for a liquor café license on Tuesday.

Brody Marion, GameCraft general manager, said the business combines vintage arcade games with local craft beer. The 16 taps planned for the bar will be from Connecticut and New England.

“We’re trying to have a strong beer selection,” Marion said. “Our thought was, ‘Let’s make this a good bar first and then make a good arcade.’”

He’s been to similar arcade and bar combinations in New Haven and Boston. GameCraft will be the first such business in town.

Marion and his three brothers along with two friends are all co-owners in the business. Their professions include accounting, IT and graphic design but running a bar will be a first for them all. Marion said they’ll likely do a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign once renovations get underway.

On Tuesday, Marion explained where game cabinets, the bar and tables will be. GameCraft will occupy former fitness space in Factory Square off Center Street, which is already home to Witchdoctor Brewing Co. and near to other bars and restaurants.

Marion said he and other owners wanted to be near other attractions. GameCraft plans to partner with nearby restaurant Paul Gregory’s to provide snacks to bar customers.

The bar will allow customers to bring their own food, although Marion wants to prevent eating and gaming at the same time.

“That can get a little sloppy after a while,” he said.

So far, the group has four games, Mrs. Pac-man, Marvel vs. Capcom, Rampage and Galaga, and has 17 more on order. The games are vintage —  from the 1980s and 90s — but have been cleaned, restored and in some cases upgraded with new buttons, screens and power supplies.

The arcade will also have pinball machines and gaming consoles, such as N64. Marion said screens at the bar will be able to play Nintendo Switch.

“Hopefully wherever you are in there, you have something to do,” he said.

The vintage arcade games will be token-operated. Rather than a token machine that requires cash, each server will be able to dispense tokens purchased with credit cards.

“At the bar you can buy your drink, your game stuff, then you’re done,” Marion said.

Renovation hasn’t begun yet and Marion didn’t want to commit to an opening date. He hopes to open before the holidays, however.

The Zoning Board of Appeals allowed the café liquor license with stipulations on the hours of operation and bar seating, according to Dave Lavallee, assistant town planner.

The café liquor license is for establishments that serve food and don’t only sell alcohol.

“That’s required here, to serve food,” Lavallee said.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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