Barcade — an arcade bar chain specializing in sandwiches and American craft beer — will open its eighth location next fall on York Boulevard. According to co-owner Paul Kermizian, Barcade features classic video games from the 1980s and 1990s, with 40 to 50 games and a few pinball machines per location. The bar will open in the previous site of Mexican restaurant El Arco Iris, which closed in April when co-owner Angie Montes retired and her son Jesse Gomez decided to focus on his six other Los Angeles restaurants.
Montes and Gomez sold the building to property development firm Coda Equities in early 2017. Since July, the space has been home to pop-up French/Filipino restaurant, Partido, which is open for dinner 6–10 p.m. Thursdays and 6–11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Additionally, Partido plans to add Saturday brunch hours from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. According to Coda Equities founder Mike Sloan, Partido will continue operating until the Barcade team begins renovating the space next year.
Kermizian, who worked as a filmmaker before becoming a bar owner, opened the original Barcade with co-owners Pete Langway, Kevin Beard and Scott Beard in Williamsburg, N.Y., in 2004. Barcade now has seven locations on the East Coast, and primarily serves beers from local Northeastern breweries such as Dogfish Head and Brooklyn Brewery. Barcade has collaborated with a number of these breweries on exclusive brews such as the Harpoon Sriracha Blonde and the Shmaltz Pastrami Pils. Kermizian said the Highland Park location will serve mostly California brews. Barcade locations do not serve drinks in bottles or cans, he said, citing the environmental advantages of pouring only draft beer.
Kermizian said that he and the other owners had been planning to open a Los Angeles location for years. They decided on Highland Park because they appreciated the neighborhood’s eclectic character.
“It’s a good mix of people,” Kermizian said. “We liked that it’s a place where you can walk around and leave your car overnight.”
Highland Park has experienced an influx of new bars, cafés and new residents over the last decade — a trend which some long-term residents and many Occidental students strongly oppose on account of rising rent prices, among other factors. With this context in mind, Kermizian was clear that Barcade would be considerate of all community members’ wishes.
“We have a really good reputation in all of our other markets, and we’ve had to go in front of community boards and work with communities almost every time we’ve opened,” Kermizian said. “We just hope that we can fit in and be a positive addition to the area.”
Kermizian said the Barcade team plans to organize events and fundraisers, continuing the tradition they have built at their other locations of engaging with the local community and supporting the arts.
Paul Flood (junior) is excited for Barcade to open but said that he and others are concerned about the potential of rising housing costs in Highland Park. Flood also acknowledged the positive implications of a new business opening in the area.
“It’s obviously a great thing if it can bring well-paying jobs to the area, especially if those jobs are held by people of the community,” Flood said.
Gomez, as El Arco Iris’s former co-owner, said closing up shop and selling the long-time restaurant space was a hard decision but the right decision. He has high hopes for Barcade.
“I imagine it would do quite well in the neighborhood,” Gomez said. “It would be nice if it opens and does well and attracts people to that side of York Boulevard, because I know most of the action happens on the other side of York Boulevard, which is closer to Occidental.”
Kermizian is confident that being at the intersection of York and Avenue 57 rather than closer to Avenues 51 and 52, where many bars are clustered, will not be a disadvantage for Barcade. He said the bar’s craft beer and classic games will make Barcade a popular destination.
Gomez is optimistic about the continuing development of York Boulevard — a process he sees as natural and inevitable. He emphasized the importance of catering to everybody in the neighborhood and not just the newer, wealthier residents.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that brunch hours were on Sundays rather than Saturdays.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Gomez owned five restaurants instead of six.