Level 1 Arcade Bar bringing retro game experience to downtown Gilbert

Aug 1, 2019, 4:05 AM | Updated: 11:35 am
(Home Leisure Direct Photo)...
(Home Leisure Direct Photo)
(Home Leisure Direct Photo)

PHOENIX – A retro video arcade – with a grown-up twist – is coming to downtown Gilbert this fall.

Level 1 Arcade Bar is taking over the former Grubstak space in the building shared by Clever Koi, just west of Gilbert Road in the town’s Heritage District dining and entertainment hub.

TJ Tillman, one of five partners in the enterprise, told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email they are aiming for a late October/early November opening date.

“We all grew up in the early ’80s and ’90s during the golden age of arcades and gaming,” said Tillman, a Gilbert financial planner who also owns the Paradox Escape Room on Gilbert Road less than a mile south of the new venture.

“We really wanted to create a place where Gen X and Gen Yers (and anyone else that appreciates retro arcades) can experience the nostalgia of hanging out in those arcades, putting up your token on the machine as the universal signal for ‘I got next’ while hanging with our favorite people.”

Level 1 is adding adult beverages to that experience, with 20 custom cocktails and 10 rotating craft beers.

The venue will also serve food, so patrons won’t have to wander off to one of the area’s many restaurants if they get hungry while Pac-Man gobbles up ghosts.

It will be open for all ages during the day, but the kids have to leave by 7 p.m., when it becomes a 21-and-over spot.

The arcade will have about 40 video games and 10 pinball machines, including classics such as Galaga, Centipede, Donkey Kong and Dragon’s Lair.

The selection will change, as the owners have an inventory of about 100 vintage games to rotate into the arcade. Fans can visit Level 1’s website to request their favorites.

The machines have been restored by marketer and retro arcade game expert Scott Goldsmith, one of the partners.

“You’re not going to find any machines with emulators, just the original equipment, restored by Scott in all their original glory,” Tillman said.

Joining Tillman and Goldsmith as partners are Ari Bracamonte, who owns Cobra Arcade Bar in Phoenix, contractor Steve Tillman and Gilbert insurance company owner Adam LeRoy.

Grubstak, which opened in downtown Gilbert in December 2016, ceased operating at the location in April but still has a southeast Chandler restaurant on Gilbert Road near Ocotillo Road.

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Level 1 Arcade Bar bringing retro game experience to downtown Gilbert