After years of planning and setbacks while working toward opening his own game palace, Ariel Bracamonte finally unveiled Cobra Arcade Bar to the public on Friday, January 8. The 3,300-square-foot watering hole in Phoenix is home to more than 40 classic arcade games including Tron, Double Dragon, Street Fighter II and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Bracamonte plans to switch out five games each month so there is always something new to play.
The “bar arcade” trend can be traced back to 2004, when Paul Kermizian opened the original Barcade (with a capital “B”) in Brooklyn, New York. Kermizian was a 20-something straight out of Syracuse University, with no seed money or experience in the bar business. He charged up his credit cards and asked friends for help with labor just to get his business up and running. Luckily, the geeky masses embraced his idea. Within a decade Barcade was profitable, with additional locations in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
In 2013, Bracamonte and then-partner Nico Paredes had the idea to bring a bar-arcade concept to Phoenix. The pair teamed up for a successful First Friday art show featuring custom-painted consoles, later opening the temporary Artcade Lounge and collaborating on the “Game On” event at Phoenix Art Museum. In the meantime, Phoenix saw the opening of bar-arcades Endgame in the Bank of America building on Mill Avenue, and The Grid in Mesa.
After collecting more than 100 vintage machines, Bracamonte teamed up with Tucker Woodbury’s Genuine Concepts to open Cobra in a prime retail spot next to the popular FilmBar. Cobra’s hip space features a patio, showpiece bar with circular overhead lighting, and black-and-white color palate with geometric patterns and bright pops of color.
Murals from local artists including Lalo Cota, El Mac and David Choe adorn the interior and exterior walls, with some of the custom painted game cabinets a throwback to Bracamonte’s 2013 show. Gamers can level up at the bar with themed drinks including the Asteroid ($9) and Crazy Kong, a fruit-infused mule with Jameson, banana shrub and ginger beer ($8).
If you go:
Cobra Arcade Bar
801 N. 2nd St., Phoenix
Open Monday-Saturday 4 p.m.-2 a.m. and noon- 2 a.m. Sunday. Ages 21+ only.
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