5 Dec, 2017

A bar arcade that inspired Tappers is coming to Indy

The Ohio-based retro arcade bar that inspired Indy’s first bar arcade has made plans to come to Downtown Indianapolis next fall.

16-Bit Bar + Arcade will open its fourth and largest location on the ground level of The Whit, a 9-story mixed-use apartment building at the northeast side of New York and Pennsylvania streets currently under construction.

The location near the southwestern mouth of Mass Ave’s arts and entertainment district was the type of place the old-school bar arcade’s owners were hoping for.

“We’ve been looking at the Indy market for about two years now,” 16-Bit Chief Entertainment Officer Troy Allen said. “We like the vibe in Indy. Demographic-wise, we like what’s happening Downtown.”

The Whit, a $70.6 million development project from TWG Development, is expected to be complete by summer. The 6,000 square-foot 16-Bit will face New York Street and have six garage doors and a patio, and will open by December 2018, but Allen is hoping for earlier.

 “We want to be a place that is destination-based where people can come out and make a night of it,” Allen said.

Guests can play the 40-ish games for free while they’re drinking one of the pop culture-themed cocktails or 36 craft beers on top (“We really don’t put a lot of domestics on tap,” Allen said. “It’s a waste of space.”) Don’t drink? There’s a non-alcoholic drink menu complete with “mocktails.” 16-Bit’s flagship location in Columbus, Ohio, is 4 years old, Cleveland, 3, and Cincinnati is 2.

“People come and they actually hang out,” Allen said. “Our length of stay is over two hours for a normal patron. We always say if someone comes to one of our locations, and it doesn’t put a smile on their face, there’s something wrong with that person.”

Games like Dig Dug, Q*bert, Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede, Donkey Kong line the walls of Cincinnati’s 16-Bit location, the closest to the one that will open in Indy next year.

“It doesn’t feel like an arcade even though there’s arcade games everywhere,” he said. “It’s an industrial modern concept that is still cozy.”

If the model sounds familiar, it’s because Tappers Arcade Bar co-owners Jeff Moulton and Austin Howard were inspired by 16-Bit and a number of other bar arcades they visited nationwide when they opened the city’s first in Fletcher Place nearly two years ago.

 The two bar arcades likely won’t poach business from each other, Allen said. Instead, the opposite is likely true. Since opening the first 16-Bit location in Columbus, five other bar arcades opened, he said.

“It hasn’t affected us one bit,” he said. “For me, it supports it. Everyone is different and everyone has its niche. I honestly think we’re creating a bigger audience for this that will help Tappers. I don’t think it’ll deter from their business or where they are in town. I think it’ll just bring more like it to the category.”

Local competition will be good for a nationally growing bar arcade trend, Moulton said.

“We’re happy they’re coming in,” Moulton said. “We think it’s going to help expand the community. That’s good for all of us.”

Even though 16-Bit will be just a mile from Tappers, the two serve different nightlife scenes, Moulton said.

“They’re two different bubbles,” he said. “The people who come down here are one crowd, and the people on Mass Ave are another crowd.”

Howard compared the two bar arcades to the number of restaurants serving tacos in Fountain Square.

“I don’t think each taco place is worrying so much about what the other place is doing so much as making the best tacos for their place,” he said. “I think this all makes us work harder. We’re not the only one here, and we never thought we were going to be the only thing for forever.”

16-Bit will be open 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The bar is 21 and up, except for an all-ages event on the third Sunday of every month.

Original article here.