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Harrisburg, there’s going to be a new place to play.
An arcade called EightyOne plans to open Dec. 25, combining dozens of video games with a bar.
Owner Errol Stewart grew up in Tea and graduated from Lennox High School in 1999. His career as a web and mobile designer has taken him to the Twin Cities, Seattle, San Francisco and Miami, working for Netflix, Microsoft and Starbucks’ corporate office.
Arcade games are his passion, though, and the idea of opening an arcade bar drew him back to his roots earlier this year.
“I’ve been collecting for about five years, and I didn’t begin the collection with the intention of opening a business,” Stewart said. “I just thought I had the income at that point and I’ve always wanted to own an arcade machine, so I said I’ll buy one. The little running joke in the arcade collecting community is you never can buy just one. And then you say two can’t hurt. And it kind of snowballs like that.”
The games began filling his home and then his garage, “so I said at this point I need to do something with these games,” he said.
Now, all 52 fully restored games will have a home at EightyOne, located in a retail center at 220 S. Cliff Ave., not far from the new Fareway. It will be open to all ages. There will be four beers on tap at the bar and a selection of bottled beers, with a focus on craft beers.
“We’re an arcade first,” Stewart said. “We’re really passionate about the games, and then we also have beer on the side.”
The 4,000-square-foot space includes extra room and a full kitchen. Stewart eventually may add some food.
Most games will cost 25 cents, and some will be 50 cents.
“I really thought long and hard for years about having a collection that appeals to anybody, like no matter what your age or gender, there will be at least one game there you will enjoy,” he said.
The oldest game is from 1978 and has a Space Invaders theme, and the newest is from 2012 and runs on an HD television.
“So the games span 36 years, and I think that’s really the appeal in my mind. You hear about arcade bars all over the U.S., but really the majority of them focus only on classic games from the ’80s.”
Stewart, who was born in 1981 – hence the business name – grew up in ’90s arcades. The range of games helps set the business apart, he said.
Harrisburg, there’s going to be a new place to play. An arcade called EightyOne plans to open Dec. 25, combining dozens of video games with a bar.