You won’t hear the collective humming and clanking when standing outside Arcadia National Bar on Preble Street. This place is hard to spot, unless you’re looking for it.
Somewhat concealed among a series of storefronts, Arcadia is hardly lit up, until you get inside, where light shines from the throng of arcade games – from oldies, like Pacman, to newbies, like Moon Patrol and Time Pilot. The difference between this game room and others is that it’s 21 and over.
The idea was born when owner Dave Aceto and his friends realized there wasn’t a place in Portland that offered arcade games and alcohol. They’d leave Coast City Comics when it closed at 6 p.m. and walk across the street to Geno’s for a drink.
“There was definitely a risk,” Aceto said. “Opening a bar or restaurant in Portland is a huge risk, but this place has become a family of nerds. You come in and you see 20 people you know every night, which is what we hoped for.”
On a recent night, almost every game was occupied, as well as all 10 or so seats at the bar. Two men were using remote controllers corresponding to a game displayed on the TV above the bar. Another man sat solo with a bar-top game, and, in the corner, a group of people gathered around a board game – one of many from a bookshelf behind the bar, next to bottles of Knob Creek and a chalkboard advertising $5 Jell-O shots.
“It’s important for me that the bar feels a sense of community,” said Aceto. “It’s much easier to do that on a Monday and Tuesday and Sunday –– relax and play a board game.”
Every day, there’s a different special or theme. For example, Wednesday is free pinball night, which is one of the arcade’s busiest nights of the week. There’s also happy hour Monday through Thursday from 5-6 p.m. ($4 local drafts and $4 well drinks). Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. is all ages, and no alcohol is served.
“It would be a shame to have this collection of arcades and not share them with all ages,” Aceto said.
There are four cocktails for $9 and $10 with arcade-themed names like Falcon Punch and Assassin’s Tea’d. The drinks are sweet and heavy on the booze.
Aceto is planning to knock down some walls and bring more light into the space. For now, the only windows are at the front entrance. He hopes some minor renovations will make room for even more games.
A recent night saw a majority of men at the bar, but Aceto said women are a big part of the arcade gaming culture.
“Women have caught on,” he said. “There’s a stigma of your nerd guy who is 300 pounds living in his mom’s basement. That’s just not the case. We have women who play in the pinball league.”
If you’re looking for a unique bar scene in Portland, Arcadia National offers a new way to relax and have fun. Check out Facebook for updated fall hours starting in September and upcoming events and specials.
WHERE: 24 Preble St., Portland
HOURS: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday (no alcohol and open to all ages, noon to 4 p.m.), 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. Fall hours start in September, check Facebook and website.
AMENITIES: Arcade games aplenty, bar seating, lounge seating, daily specials/themes
BOTTOM LINE: Stocked with both the latest arcade games and old school classics, Arcadia National Bar is Portland’s only 21-plus gaming spot that offers local craft beer, wine and house cocktails. Happy hour, mug club, weekly specials and themes offered at this whirring game stop on Preble Street.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: No