Recreating Memories at Recbar

Rec Bar Grand Open-02Let me make one thing abundantly clear: Video games are not just for little kids. Sure, many of us have distinct, fond memories of video games from our youth – a period when the time to enjoy them was undoubtedly more abundant. Some of us may even be veterans from the wild-west days of gaming with such classics as “Pong,” “Adventure” and “Tempest.” Arcade games are a whole new breed of animal, however, and Recbar, a new bar and dining venue with a focus on the social aspect of gaming, has opened to bring nostalgia, old-school challenge and fun to anyone who remembers gripping that joystick or controller with sweat and gritty determination.

The concept behind any bar is to afford patrons a place to let loose, a place where the distractions are numerous and the worries nonexistent. For anyone who likes video games – whether it be “Galaga” or “Halo” – there simply are no worries in the world of the game. This fact, when coupled with the timeless nature and challenge of arcade games, allows adult gamers the opportunity to grab a beer, some tasty snacks and lose a few hours.

Rec Bar Grand Open-04When I first walk into Recbar, I’m impressed with just how busy it is. Mind you, I may be rusty, but I love video games. I was ready, however, to temper my own feelings and expectations with the knowledge that I had a bias. Just because this seemed like a great way to spend an evening to me didn’t change the fact that I had to consider that a video game arcade might struggle in a tight market. Niche or not, the place was full, and despite the ample array of game stations, nearly each of them had someone taking a turn. I was also pleased to notice that the gamers present were of varied race, gender and age. Sure, the dominant demographic was 20-something male, but it was not as much the rule as I expected it to be.

I decided to take a moment to get my bearings and take in my surroundings. Another area of the bar was more traditional, containing few games and more tables and seating. There was even access to a generous patio area outside. The bar was expectedly crowded, but I treated myself to an Apocalypse Cream-ation Ale – a personal favorite – anyway. Continuing to tour the place, I saw some arcade titles that made my heart race as well as some crowded table-top games, skee ball and an intense tournament-style bout of gaming going on in the back. I could be wrong, but it seemed like there was some sort of substantial cash prize at stake.

Finally, I ran into Corey Sims, who – with Tony Thomas – serves as one half of the team responsible for all the success Recbar has so far enjoyed. He was quick to make me feel welcome. Treating me to Recbar’s late-night limited menu – a breakfast burger served on waffles is more than enough to get me to come back earlier in the day – Sims set me up with some pretzel bites and beer cheese as well as some Buff Chicken Rolls, which were essentially buffalo chicken and mozzarella cheese wrapped in crispy egg rolls. He also gave me a rocks glass filled with tokens, and like a kid again, I ran back out into the bar to play.

This may seem silly to some of you, but it was my mother who got me hooked on gaming. So in her honor, I found her signature game in the line-up: “Galaga.” I have a theory that the older the game, the more challenging it is. It’s not anything that holds up under any amount of real scrutiny, but it’s a fun exercise to imagine that the original generation of gamers had it rough, that they paved the way for all the streamlined computer-generated adventures we enjoy today. Between “Galaga” and “Pac-Man” – another favorite of my mother’s – I lost more than a few tokens, and it took a display of willpower that I did not know that I possessed to move on to other options. There were so many other games to try, and I didn’t want to be that guy to hog a particular machine after all.

Rec Bar Grand Open-74Next, I traipsed through the annals of my own childhood video game memory and revisited such titles as “Metal Slug,” “Mortal Kombat,” “The House of the Dead,” “Spider-Man: The Video Game” and “X-Men: Children of the Atom.” The only game that was nowhere to be found that would have perfectly completed this trip down memory lane would have been “The Simpsons: The Video Game,” a game located in the Pizza Hut near my childhood home to which I lost many a quarter. It is worth noting, however, that Recbar does have the rare and extremely difficult “Shinobi,” which is a game that I had always wanted to try but could never find in arcade form. This unexpected opportunity more than made up for that small personal disappointment.

“We really wanted to bring a concept that blended all aspects – food, dining, beverage, gaming,” Sims said when I congratulated him on opening such a great and seemingly successful enterprise. If you’re interested but have never touched a joystick; if you’re a seasoned pro; or even if you’re like me, a rusty gamer who may wish to rekindle the magic, Recbar has just the right game to help you unwind. VT

Recbar is located at 10301 Taylorsville Road. They can be reached at info@recbarlouisville.com or by calling 502.509.3033. Their hours are Monday-Wednesday 4 p.m.-midnight, Thursday-Friday 4 p.m.-3 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-3 a.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-midnight.

Photos courtesy of Recbar