Prepare to geek out on craft beer, cocktails and arcade games at Up-Down (101 Southwest Boulevard), an arcade parlor and bar that opens 5:30 p.m. this Friday. The first 100 people in the door will get 20 free game tokens. With skill and luck, gamers might parlay those tokens into bonus points and free plays on classic games such as Frogger, Ms. Pacman, Mortal Kombat and more.
The first Up-Down entertainment venue opened in the East Village District of Des Moines. There, partners Josh Ivey, Sam Summers and Rafe Mateer converted a below-ground space into an arcade and craft beer bar.
“It’s not visible from the street,” Ivey says. “You’d walk by it unless you knew it was there.”
The concept found an audience as a popular local destination. When the entrepreneurs wanted to open a second location, they didn’t want to open in Des Moines in order to preserve Up-Down’s unique atmosphere. Kansas City came to mind.
“There are parallels between Des Moines and Kansas City,” Ivey says. “KC has more night life, but both cities have up-and-coming entertainment districts. These districts are alive. Everything is developing in Kansas City. It’s a place for young people with great food and beer culture but not too hectic in the city. It’s a natural fit.”
Up-Down occupies a heavily renovated building, formerly home to Hamburger Mary’s, in the Crossroads Arts District. The updated space includes a spacious new bar area in a 3,200-square-foot main room, enhanced tap system, new air conditioning, the addition of a second level mezzanine, a new first-level patio, upstairs patio, and custom bar furnishings from Kansas City’s Second Life Studios.
Local graffiti artist Van Holmgren created a vivid mural on a wall dominated by the unmistakable face of Steve Erkel, a character from ‘90s sitcom “Family Matters.” Black-and-white collages of pop culture figures from the ‘80s and ‘90s adorn other walls, fixtures and windows. The entire space has a nostalgic feel that’s inherently positive, familiar and care-free, a perfect environment to play harmless games and drink craft beer.
Blowing up asteroids and defeating Sonya Blade, Johnny Blade and Kitana in Mortal Kombat is thirsty work. The main bar was built with a 48-tap system, plus another 10 taps are available at the upstairs patio bar. Domestic macro beers will be served only in bottles and cans.
The rotating mix of local and national craft beers on draft includes The Calling, Tank 7 and Spring Bell Saison from Boulevard Brewing; Brewery Ommegang’s Game of Thrones 1 and 2, Lagunitas High West-ified Imperial Coffee Stout, Martin City’s Abbey Ale and 15-lb. Brown, J. Marie from River North, MILF from Mother’s Brewing, KC Bier Co. Maibock and Hefeweizen, Odell’s Peach Tree Shaker, Torn Label House Brew and Cinder Block Brewery’s North Town Native.
Up-Down may not have Tom Cruise performing as Brian Flanagan in “Cocktail,” but guests can enjoy ‘80s and ’90s-inspired cocktails on the drink menu. Initially, Up-Down’s food options will include local food trucks positioned outside the bar. While the space has a sizeable kitchen, the primary focus will be on refining the gaming and bar experience first.
More than 50 popular games in the ‘80s and ‘90s fill every nook and cranny of the arcade bar. By design, the atmosphere replicates the cramped feel of an arcade parlor at a shopping mall.
Kids of all ages — actually, 21 and over in this barcade — can test their reflexes and acumen on classics like Atari’s Centipede, Cruisin’ USA, multi-player X-Men, NBA Jam, Asteroids, Mario Bros., Street Fighter, and oddities such as Revolution X, a rail shooter game featuring Aerosmith.
Up-Down will also have eleven pinball games and four skee ball alleys. Special tournaments and leagues will be held regularly. All games cost a mere 25 cents.
Television shows familiar to Generation X and Millennial kids will air on more than a dozen screens mounted throughout the bar.
Stock up on tokens. Wet your whistle. It’s time to get your game on, Kansas City. Up-Down will be open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. to midnight Sunday.