Combining the nostalgia of 1970s and 1980s video arcade games with alcoholic drinks is the magic of the new retro-themed Bar_Botics Arcade in downtown Terre Haute.
It’s a place where old school games such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Centipede, Missile Command, Trophy Hunting and Donkey Kong return from past popular culture into the 21st century.
The new business at 671 Wabash Avenue officially opened its doors Jan. 15, and is now open daily from 3 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. Cover is $5, but then all video arcade games are free to play.
Bar_Botics is a business venture of Ethan Page and Alec Thompson, who met in January 2019 as each, separately, considered the Wabash Avenue spot for an arcade bar.
“I had been wanting to do something in entertainment, either a restaurant or bar or an arcade bar. When I looked at the space, the landlord said, ‘This other guy came in yesterday wanting to do an arcade bar.’ ‘I said,’ What?’” Page said.
Page and Thompson met later that same day. The two discovered each has a talent useful to the new business. Page researched demographics and business costs, while Thompson had graphic design and skills for daily management.
Page is a native of Terre Haute, graduating in 2009 from North Vigo High School and from Indiana University in 2013, with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from the university’s Kelley School of Business.
“I ran paint companies to pay for college, and started my first venture, Crossroads Events and Timing,” Page said. Crossroads was a full-service event management and race timing company for running events, from 5K runs to marathons or 100-mile events. Page still runs that company.
Thompson is a 2016 graduate of Vincennes, with an associates degree in graphic design. He worked for three years as a marketing and graphic designer for Clabber Girl and since 2011 has worked as a freelance graphic designer for Undefined Cinema, a multimedia company he and friends stared in college.
While arcade bars are not unique to Indiana, with others in Indianapolis, Evansville and in Bloomington, Page said he and Thompson worked to combine the best ideas of other locations in the new Terre Haute business.
The new business has 22 different game cabinets, of which the majority are single games. However, there are five multicade cabinets, four with 60 different classic games, while one has 3,000 games on it, Page said.
“I am confident, between the single and multicades, we have any game you can think of that you want to play when you come in,” Page said.
And on the bar side, a large rectangular resin bar is filled with comic book covers, with a large red resin river flowing through it. “It looks as if lava is flowing through and burning the comic books,” Page said. Colorful stools line the bar.
Old arcade marquees were used to make custom drink tables.
Unique mixed drinks include the “Health Potion,” with rum and peach schnapps, served with a luster dust. “It is what they use in cake baking. It is edible and causes a shimmer, so it is something unique and different,” Page said.
Other drinks come with candied cigarettes or pop rocks. Drinks are named after games or movies and stars, such as the “Hopper” encrypted with whiskey; the Arnold Schwarzenegger, programmed with vodka; or The Jurrasic, a combination of vodka, gin and rum.
Additionally, Page said the property owner, Kent Kadel, took a precaution that will help the business during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes an ultra violet system hooked into the heating, cooling and ventilation system that purifies air. Additionally, wipes are provided for games and tables to be wiped off after each use.
The business currently employs seven workers, who will wear face coverings/masks during the pandemic, Page said.