Boston, MA - When Barcade, widely credited as the first arcade bar, opened in Brooklyn in 2004, it was easy to dismiss it as a nostalgic yearning for a childhood in suburbia during the 1980s; a wistful remembrance for big hair, strip mall arcades, and sagging pockets full of quarters. In other words, a trend that would ultimately fizzle out once patrons had enough of letting their inner children run wild.
Barcade has since expanded into a national chain with over a half dozen locations. Nor are they the… ahem... only game in town. Adult arcade bars are booming across the U.S. San Francisco's Emporium, a 3-story arcade / bar / lounge / club, opened last December and from all accounts, appears to have lines out the door on a regular basis. And locally, A4cade opened in Kendall Square earlier last year with vintage arcade games, pinball and food offerings by Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.
Now, the newest kid on the block has come to Downtown Crossing. Versus opened earlier this week, with the promise of classic game themed cocktails and bar bites.
Neither A4cade nor Versus were the first to catch on this trend locally. Salem’s Bit Bar has been successfully operating for a little over three years now (it can be argued that Somerville’s notorious Good Times Emporium was a trendsetter but, uh… let’s just say mistakes are known to have been made there.) So what makes Versus different?
For one, its size. Capable of comfortably fitting some 250 people, it’s plain to see that that the venue is perfectly as accommodating to large parties as well as casual players. And it’s no surprise. The venture is part of the Big Night Entertainment Group offerings; those same people responsible for Back Bay’s Red Lantern and the Seaport District’s Empire and the Grand. In other words, people who know how to think big.
If you come to Versus expecting anything other than pub grub you’re bound to be disappointed. Think steak and cheese spring rolls, wings, “Pac-Man” themed pizzas and the inevitable burgers, all beside a small but well curated beer list and arcade themed cocktails.
Of course, the draw to Versus for most people will be neither food nor cocktails but the games. With almost three dozen different games—from arcade classics like Centipede to modern XBox games, pinball, skee ball as well as table top board games—as well as murals by local artist Dirty Dek, Versus will likely fill the same niche for many adults that the cheese fries and long lines did when they were growing up. Just with more booze.
So long as they don’t forget their quarters.
Versus is located at 42 Province St in Boston and is open Monday - Thursday from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, Friday from 11:00 am - 1:00 am, Saturday from 4:00 pm - 1:00 am and Sunday from 12:00 pm - 8:00 pm. For more information, visit <a href="http://versusboston.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">versusboston.com</a>