Grid Locked: Mesa Arcade Bar Readies for Launch

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Culture Issue: September 2015
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The Grid: Games and GrowlersThe arcade trend might’ve died out with neon legwarmers and Tamagotchis, but in the past decade some game-loving entrepreneurs have found a brilliant way to revive this old-school pastime for current crowds: just add alcohol.

Dubbed the “bar acade” (or “speakeasy arcade,” in the words of Stinger Report e-newsletter author Kevin Williams) after Paul Kermizian’s Brooklyn bar, these entertainment meccas offer typical bar and grill amenities with the added bonus of console, pinball or arcade cabinet games.

While the original New York Barcade opened in 2004, the trend didn’t hit Phoenix until pop culture haunt Endgame opened in Tempe last year. This month, one of the Mill Avenue bar’s founders is set to unveil a new neon-lit, ultra-modern barcade in Mesa. Named The Grid after the movie Tron’s experimental digital platform, the 4,100-square-foot nightspot will feature a blacklight pool table, synthwave music with stadium seating for concerts, 10-15 beers on tap and 13 cabinet games that still take quarters.

Owners Matthew Robbins and Bryan Young met through mutual interests in video games, music and auto racing. “Bryan had this cool custom car with a game theme,” says Robbins. “You have to put a quarter in the slot when you get in it.” The pair teamed up with co-owner Michael Goosens, who used to coordinate events at Endgame, for a show at Mind’s Eye in Mesa to test out the idea of running concerts and events at the new bar. “We started with four arcade games and a Kegerator,” quips Robbins. “Now we have a color-changing bar top and a 5-on-5 multiplayer Killer Queen machine that people go crazy for.”

The Kegerator will still be in play at The Grid, where rotating “tap takeovers” will allow guest breweries to feature six of their beers at the pony taps. Arcade games are up and running, and the trio already has consoles in hand including Xbox 360 and One, PlayStation 3 and 4, Super Nintendo, Sega Saturn and PCs for computer gaming. “We’ve got everything here,” says Robbins. “The idea is to sit, have a drink, and request the system you want.” Select tables will feature 21-inch monitors that can be swiveled when guests want to watch a live show.

The Grid is tentatively scheduled for a soft opening the first week in October; a grand opening will be held later in the year when work on the venue’s full kitchen is complete.

If you go:
The Grid
525 S. Gilbert Rd., Mesa