Barcade: A business model that offers something old, something new and something boozy

By , Steve CredoBest of BusinessFOXBusiness

Barcade co-founder talks beer and gaming

Barcade co-founder Paul Kermizian shares how a group of friends transformed the idea of an arcade-style bar into a successful business.

Walk into Barcade, an arcade-style bar with seven busy locations peppered across the east coast, and you will inevitably witness the gamut of generations socializing in a variety of ways.

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You may see 40-somethings deeply engaged in a game of Mr. Do!, 30-somethings guzzling down craft beers, and 20-somethings becoming newly acquainted with vintage arcade games that can seemingly fit into one iPhone app.

It is that kind of eclectic crowd that is drawn to Barcade, that has kept it relevant and growing for over 15 years. In 2004 Paul Kermizian and several of his friends from Syracuse University opened their first location in Brooklyn, New York. “We were actually looking to open a bar together as a way to have a steady income and become kind of more choosy freelancers in our careers,” Kermizian tells FOX Business. “But, Barcade turned into something much bigger.”

The concept transformed into a career for Kermizian and his co-founders, and it certainly yielded steadier incomes for the team over the past decade.

Kermizian tells FOX Business, in part, that Barcade’s success is due to the continued resurgence of classic games that has not only come from nostalgic Generation X-er’s and Y-er’s, but it has also come from Millennials and Generation Z-er’s who have been introduced to iterations of the classic games on their smartphones.

It's been almost 15 years since we opened, and there's been a resurgence going on in classic games and services the whole time we've been open,” explains Kermizian, “We've been able to tap into that and expand on it.”

Maintaining the authentic gaming aesthetic in Barcade, says Kermizian, is not easy and not simply a matter of having the games plugged in. Barcade makes an effort to have a rotating slew of the classic arcade games with their original hardware and controls across its seven locations. According to Kermizian, of the 600 arcade games that Barcade owns, there are about 350 machines out the floor at a time.

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Maintaining the arcade games is a huge expense, and it is very time consuming for us,” reveals Kermizian.  “Things would be much easier if we just wanted to put computers in all of the games to emulate the original versions, but we are dedicated to preserving the original hardware whenever we can.” Kermizian also explains that Barcade’s servers and bartenders must be able to troubleshoot the arcade games to identify and fix problems that inevitably arise, in addition to traditional serving duties.

Besides the arcade games, craft beer has served as an integral component of Barcade’s draw to a diverse consumer base, as well as a major aspect of its growing success and revenue. Each location offers more than a dozen beers, with craft brews created specifically for each location.

The knowledgeable bartenders at Barcade are also able to break down the wide beer selection and offer a variety of choices based on patrons’ likes and dislikes. “We were surprised with how popular the dual concept of classic games mixed with American craft beer was at the start,” says Kermizian. A lot of times larger concepts can only have a lifespan of a couple years, but ours just kind of kept growing, along with our offerings of games and beers.”

Consumers in markets across the United States could soon see a Barcade pop up near them. With seven locations right now, we have two in the works, with one getting ready to open in Los Angeles this year and another after that in Detroit, explains Kermizian. “I'll be very tired.”

 Emily DeCiccio is a video producer and reporter for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.

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