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Heather Steeves

Heather Steeves tries to do things that are fun -- and only things that are fun. So far that's included stilt walking, roller derby and cross-country road trips in her Saturn.

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Posted: August 28, 2014

Arcadia National Bar opening tonight: play video games & drink beer in downtown Portland

Written by: Heather Steeves

UPDATE: This article was originally posted in April, but we learned it will open 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5.

When you have 20 minutes to kill in downtown Portland, you have two options: shop or eat. But there’s not much to do. That’s about to change. Come mid-June an arcade (with a bar = barcade) will open on Preble Street in the space where Slainte Pub & Restaurant is now. Arcadia National Bar will have a 10-stool bar with New England beers (and a cheap tallboy of some sort) and at least 20 vintage arcade games and pinball machines.

Dave Aceto, 29, and Ben Culver, 31, both of Portland, have been planning the space, trolling online arcade trading forums (that’s a thing) and moving pinball machines into their friends’ homes for months in preparation for the opening of Arcadia National Bar.

“Moving the machines has become the most annoying part,” Dave said as he sipped a Bissell Brothers’ IPA, The Substance.

Ben nodded and twisted his mustache.

Arcadia National Bar will have a hearing to get its liquor license at Monday’s Portland City Council meeting. The city’s business license administrator, Janice Garner said Slainte has not applied for any city licenses to move. “If they were moving soon, I should have it. I don’t,” she said. “But I know Arcadia signed the lease to that building.” Slainte released a statement that they will close because their lease was not renewed. The bar will have a going away party on Saturday, April 26.

Arcadia will have about a dozen pinball machines and another dozen arcade games. So far they’ve locked down Q*Bert, Arkanoid, Street Fighter II, Simpsons, X-Men, NBA Jam and Pole Position (“You can drink and drive. In fact, we encourage it,” Dave said.). They plan to have Donkey Kong, Ms. Pacman and Area 51 too.

“People have already been talking smack saying, ‘I’m the best at Galaga.’ … We’ll see,” Dave said.

A quarter will get you a play on an arcade game, 50 cents for the pinball. The high scores will reset each month and at the end of the year there will be a tournament of champions. Dave and Ben are also toying with the idea of having some consoles, think Nintendo and an N64.

The “barcade” has taken off in other cities. Brooklyn, NY, Boston and that other Portland all have them (I’ve been to the one in the other Portland, and I have to say, it is awesome). Arcadia National Bar will have one menu item: grilled cheese. You can add tomato, ham, whatever you want to it, but Arcadia is sticking to the sandwich. The point is to trigger nostalgia.

“Portland isn’t a super young city,” Dave said, guessing most of his customers might be 21-40 or maybe older. “It will be about nostalgia.

If a grilled cheese just won’t do, Slab — a new pizza place by Stephen Lanzalotta, formerly of Micucci Grocery — is opening on Preble Street too in the Portland Public Market Building.

“Between the two of us, Preble Street will be a cool place to be,” Dave said.

“Portland has so much going for it for how small it is. We’re trying to add to how cool it is,” Ben added. “There’s something about Maine — it’s like a forgotten place — you can get away with trying a lot of cool things. People are open to it.”

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