Want to channel your childhood dodging Donkey Kong barrels or battling Bowser with a joystick? From planning the next board meeting to meeting up with coworkers for happy hour, Minnesota offers a bevy of hot spots where you can enjoy all the nostalgia your kid-at-heart desires. From Maple Grove to the Minneapolis Warehouse District, there is a niche of bars and restaurants that are serving up their entertainment arcade style, with vintage video games on the menu.
Insert Coin(s), an interactive nightclub that opened in October at the old Karma building, is the newest gaming experience in Minneapolis. With no shortage of televisions (more than 50 screens and two video walls), this club contains nearly 11,000 square feet of fun and fare that includes access to dozens of retro arcade machines and video game consoles ranging from Atari to Xbox 360. Featuring a variety of gaming areas and playing booths scattered across two stories, Insert Coin(s) is home to authentic food, dance music and healthy competition.
"Playing games is a great icebreaker to get to know people, and we offer a really fun environment to play them all," says Marielle Sinicropi, co-owner of Insert Coin(s), as she pointed to her favorite-the classic "Mario Bros." arcade game from the 80s. "We have so many old-school ones that I remember growing up, but we also try to stay current."
Grab a controller and a drink at the bar to play for free, insert a couple quarters into one of more than 30 coin-operated classics, or gather a few coworkers for a 3-D gaming experience in a private booth with bottle service. Insert Coin(s) offers options for every gaming enthusiast and those who want to sit back and take in the digital dreamscape.
"From corporate events to smaller business meetings, we are equipped with state-of-the-art technology for gaming and presentations and the space to accommodate nearly any need," Sinicropi says. The Minneapolis location, being only the second in the national chain, is one-and-a-half times larger than its Las Vegas counterpart.
Before 9 p.m. the location operates as an upscale restaurant, bar and lounge. After 9 p.m. it turns into a 21-plus nightclub, featuring a live DJ most nights and a VIP area. The menu features Latin fusion creations by executive chef Tony Panelli, former owner of the Caribe Caribbean Bistro in St. Paul, with island flavors (including mango and cheese empanadas) and custom catering options that include buffet-style and hors d’oeuvres.
Dave & Buster’s
Offering more than 160 gaming options and a family-friendly atmosphere, Dave & Buster’s is a lively place with a more traditional midway. Located in Maple Grove, the popular arcade chain features an abundance of amusement, from classic skeeball to Fruit Ninja, the mobile application hit versioned for a 42-inch HD screen.
Stop in with a few coworkers and take advantage of the Eat & Play Combo to get an entree and $10 game play for under $16, or coordinate an event for 2,000 guests. Structured packages vary based on the event and number of attendees, but walk-ins are welcome, so don’t hesitate to show up with your marketing department on a whim.
"We can completely customize your meeting or event however you want, so it’s engaging and fun," says Mike Laudizio, general manager of Dave & Buster’s. For parties, Laudizio says they even offer an in-house staff of referees that can keep track of scoring during team-building activities or just to quench your competitive streak.
For a laid-back atmosphere, Chatterbox Pub offers vintage game consoles (Nintendo, Atari, SEGA, etc.) and a collection of arcade classics at three locations in the metro area. Nikki Townsend, development manager, describes each location as having its own unique vibe, but with quite the collection in common; from Operation to Apples to Apples, Chatterbox houses more board games than your great aunt’s closet. Take a stroll to Candy Land or conquer the world in Risk; new or old, you can play any board game free of charge.
"It’s a great way to get your creative mind going and loosen up," Townsend says of the games, which pair well with a Chatterbox microbrew and bistro pizza. "We make work meetings much more interesting."
Renting Insert Coin(s) for inclusive private events starts at around $55 per person, and booths are also available for smaller groups on a consumption basis. You can live-feed board meetings to other areas of the club and enjoy game-inspired specialty drinks like the Princess Peach martini.
» Play » Break the ice with a few rounds of "Pac-Man" or go bold and bust a move with "Dance Central," a motion-sensor game for Xbox Kinect.
DAVE & BUSTER’S
Take advantage of savings with the Eat & Play Combo: Get an entrée and $10 play card for $15.99. For major meetings, choose from a list of company challenges/teambuilding exercises to make the most of the midway.
» Play » Team up to play a supersize Connect Four or spin the Wheel of Fortune to collect tickets you can redeem for prizes.
Make it a night of Music Bingo or host a presentation and start a vintage video game marathon in the same room at the banquet facility in the St. Paul location. Chatterbox can furnish it with a couch for added comfort.
» Play » Set up a SEGA Genesis and try your hand at "Sonic the Hedgehog" or practice for one of the Scrabble board game tournaments Chatterbox hosts every month.
4501 France Ave. S. / Minneapolis 612.920.3221
2229 E. 35th St. / Minneapolis 612.728.9871
800 Cleveland Ave. S. / Saint Paul 651.699.1154