- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - It was his 8th birthday party, at a mall arcade in Peoria, that hooked Kyle Carter.

“My mom rented out the entire Aladdin’s Castle. I remember specifically they brought the chains down (to the mall entrance) and it was dark in there,” Carter, now 34, told the Quad-City Business Journal (https://bit.ly/1iaNACa ). “All my friends were there and I had birthday cake and $40 worth of tokens - which seemed like a fortune.

“I will never forget how incredibly awesome that felt,” he said. “That really bit me at that point and I’ve never stopped loving it.”

Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, continued his love of arcade video games through high school and college, filling the basement of his Davenport home with vintage games.

In the back of his mind, he wanted to share his arcade games with customers at a bar. When he heard that a few “arcade bars” had started in Chicago, he was crestfallen.

“It drove a stake through my heart that someone had not only done the concept, but it was wildly successful,” Carter said. “And then they just exploded all across the country.”

Little did Carter know that his plans were running parallel with those of Dan Bush, a Davenport businessman, who was exploring the same concept.

“We kind of hit it off from there,” Bush said of their meeting a year ago.

The Analog Arcade Bar opened for business last week at the corner of 3rd and Brady streets in Davenport after two nights of practice runs for family and friends.

Although a few arcade bars have taken off in Chicago, the two said there’s nothing of the kind in Milwaukee, Minneapolis nor St. Louis.

Although a few of the games came from Carter’s basement, many were scavenged from throughout the Midwest, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Valparaiso, Indiana; Milwaukee to St. Louis.

“We spent months and months on Craigslist,” Bush said. “The minute we would see something we wanted on Craigslist, we’d hook up our trailer and drive there. The good stuff goes quickly.”

“It builds a network because you meet these people and they’ll tell you where they got their games and so on and so on,” Carter said. “Before you know it you’ve found yourself in the midst of a really weird subculture, which is good for us.

“This is a lot like the (micro)brewery culture, where guys that are in this business want to help you and build the culture and make it bigger,” Carter added.

The 5,500-square-foot facility holds about 60 games, including 17 pinball machines. Bush and Carter said they have another 15 video games and 15 pinballs in storage, and plan to rotate them every few months.

“With this concept, you’ve got to keep it fresh,” Bush said. “That’s the nice thing, we’ll always have something new to talk about.”

Tokens are four for $1, and even they have a unique spin: The bar’s logo is on one side, and a picture of Daytrotter.com founder Sean Moeller is on the other, with the phrase “In Sean We Trust.” The next batch of coins will feature a different local face, Carter said.

Most of the video games are one token, and all of the pinball are two. A few other games, such as skeeball and side-by-side basketball pop-a-shot games, are multiple tokens.

Analog includes mainstays for kids of the ‘80s, including Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders and Centipede. There are also a few rarities, including F-Zero II, which Carter says is one of only six in the world; a bubble-domed hockey game between the United States and the USSR, created after the 1980 Winter Olympics; and Ice Cold Beer, where players use joysticks and levers to ease a ball-bearing down a vertical wall full of holes.

The bar includes 10 beers on tap, and 100 different bottled microbrews, including those from locals Bent River Brewery and Great River Brewing Company.

Analog does not admit anyone younger than 21 years and does not serve food. But an oversized, ornate red phone is connected to Jimmy John’s restaurants - Bush owns five franchises in the area - for delivery.

The open area seats 70 people, which Bush and Carter said they insisted on after seeing too much standing-room-only at other arcade bars. The tables are made from the remains of a bowling alley lanes from Crete, Illinois.

The new spot for Analog was built in 1918 as the Scott County Savings Bank, which changed hands several times before becoming the home of Schneff’s Jewelers, which shut down in 2004.

The former conference room is available for private parties, with remains of a wooden bowling game at the center of the table. The vaults have turned into private rooms, which hold six to eight people and block out much of the sound.

“We really expect there to be as many women as men here, from their 20s to 70-plus. If you grew up in the ‘80s, you’re going to remember Burger Time, Pac-Man, Galaga, Defender. You’re going to be drawn to that,” Carter said.

“We have the whole gamut here, and it’s a beautiful space,” he added. “It feels like a place that my parents want to be at, that my friends want to be at. That’s unique among arcade bars out there that achieve that mix.”

Carter, who will retain his day job with Downtown Davenport Partnership, said his side venture is part of the revitalization of the Brady Street area, including the eventual Daytrotter concert venue, the renovation of the Parker Building and Forest Block and a planned new marquee at the Adler Theatre.

“This is going to look fundamentally different,” Carter said. “When Bix comes around next July, people are going to see a completely different Davenport.”


Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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