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Barcade Brings Retro Arcade Games, Craft Beer To New Haven

It's on like Donkey Kong - and 50 more vintage games - at the new @BarcadeNewHaven

In New Haven, it's on like Donkey Kong. And Ms. Pac-Man. And Frogger, and other vintage arcade games of a bygone era.

Barcade, a retro-style arcade with a restaurant and bar, officially opens its sixth location at 56 Orange Street Sunday at 6 p.m. The 21-and-over spot features 50 token-operated games, a menu of appetizers and sandwiches and an extensive craft beer list.

At a preview event Friday, Barcade guests sipped stouts and IPAs as they worked joysticks and smashed buttons, racking up scores to the soundtrack of familiar bleeps and bloops (and the occasional trill of a disappointing "game over" alert.) 

Business partners Paul Kermizian, Pete Langway and brothers Kevin and Scott Beard opened the original Barcade in Brooklyn in 2004, followed by two others in downtown Jersey City and Philadelphia in 2011. Three years later, they opened two more in Manhattan. They were considering a New England location, possibly in the Boston area, when New Haven city officials reached out to them, Kermizian said.

"We kept in touch with them and when we were ready, we came up, did some research, checked out [the city] on weekends [and said] 'This would actually be a cool market for us,'" he said. 

Visitors will find some of the "golden era" games of the 1980s, like Centipede, Punch-Out!!, Tapper, Tetris and Tron, said Kermizian. For guests 40 and older, "that hits [their] nostalgia sweet spot." The craft beer aspect brings in "more sophisticated drinkers, beer geeks, older people," he said. 

But then Barcade will also see a younger audience - like visitors born in the mid-1990s celebrating 21st birthdays - who will often be experiencing an arcade environment for the first time altogether. Arcades grew increasingly less prevalent as home video game consoles like Nintendo, Sega and PlayStation became ubiquitous. Younger guests, though, may be familiar with certain classic games updated for a modern era as smartphone apps, Kermizian said. 

All games are powered by Barcade tokens, which are 25 cents apiece. On-site token machines accept bills from $1 to $20. 

Craft beer is an integral focus at all Barcade locations. Connecticut beer is well-represented on New Haven's tap list, which features 24 drafts and one cask beer. The opening night featured selections from Beer'd, Black Hog, Half Full, New England Brewing and Two Roads, with upcoming brews from Relic and Stubborn Beauty.

Kermizian said Barcade tries to keep the list about 75 percent Northeastern, with a tighter concentration on "hyperlocal" beers. "It's cool for us, because some of these [local beers,] we don't get to get in New York or New Jersey." Barcade also works with select breweries that create exclusive beers just for their locations; upcoming brews from Smuttynose and Captain Lawrence will join the list in New Haven in the next two months, he said.

The draft list also features mead and cider, and the full bar will offer a house cocktail menu in the coming weeks, Kermizian said, with a small section of American craft spirits. 

The kitchen turns out a slew of small plates, ranging from traditional bar food like wings and sliders to fried cauliflower in Indian-spiced tomato sauce, "clam chowder fries" with bacon bits and fried egg, and pickled hop shoots. Sandwiches feature a chicken and waffle grilled cheese, a fried clam po'boy and several burger varieties, including a "Fat New Haven" cheeseburger with fried clams and clam chowder sauce on a hero roll.

Menu items are priced at $7 to $16. A weekday lunch special, available until 4 p.m., offers any $7 beer with a sandwich and fries. 

After Sunday, Barcade will be open 7 days a week at noon, closing at 1 a.m. on weeknights and at 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 203-889-2966, barcadenewhaven.com.

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