A fun new pinball arcade bar is opening near Fort Worth's hospital district that will combine old-school vintage pinball machines with craft beer and cocktails. Called The Craftcade, it will open at 615 S. Jennings Ave., in the space previously occupied by The Last Word bookstore, which closed in June.
Set to open in January 2018, The Craftcade comes from Jenni and Calvin Shelby, whose family has been in the arcade business for many decades.
"The whole arcade industry was dead for some time, but it's making a comeback," Calvin says. "What we're doing is a straight Chicago-style pinball and arcade bar. Chicago was pretty much the birth of gaming, and all of the manufacturers were up there. Some closed down, but there are still a couple of companies left who are manufacturing pinball machines every day."
A Chicago-style pinball bar is not a mere bar with pinball machines. It follows a specific profile and has a certain vibe.
"The buildings are generally long and narrow, with games on both sides and seats in the middle, and a bar to one side," he says. "You're starting to see them pop up in cities like Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, and San Diego."
Dallas has the makings of an arcade bar revival, led by Barcadia, which opened on Henderson Avenue in 2008 as a combination bar and arcade. There are now Barcadias in Fort Worth, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. Bishop Cider Co. expanded its Dallas brewery with an arcade called CiderCade. Free Play, a massive arcade with beer and food, has locations in Richardson and Arlington.
There are game mega-rooms like Dave & Buster's, though those have more of a family orientation and brighter, glitzier atmosphere.
"Craftcade will be a pinball bar where you can come in and have a couple of cocktails or a beer, with a nostalgic feel," he says. Think brick interior and a collection of vintage machines Shelby has had in storage.
"In the '70s, my grand-dad had a pinball arcade on Commerce Street in downtown Fort Worth, and then my family had arcades in Euless and Prestonwood," he says.
His stash has machines from the 80s and 90s to which they're adding brand new machines as well.
"We'll also do a handful of arcade games, but just the classics like PacMan, Galaga, Defender, and Space Invaders," he says. "We're not doing any fighter games, and we're not going to have anything past the '90s unless there's really a demand. We're going for a real throwback to '80s gaming."