Video game bar powers up in Saskatoon

A new Saskatoon bar offers its patrons a new social experience that involves around 1,000 video games. Dayne Winter / Global News

SASKATOON – A Saskatoon bar is offering a new social experience for its patrons that involves video games. “Bartari” has opened its doors and business is electric, according to one of its owners.

Raul Orellana says it’s been very exciting for his business to be open for the last three weeks.

“[It’s been] very positive. Lots of people come in here thinking ‘why didn’t they have this idea,’ but it’s been really successful,” said Orellana.
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“It’s a very small-orientated place so it feels like you’re at home; I think that’s the bonus of us here. On Friday, Saturday’s we are busy so we encourage people to show up early because it fills up pretty quick.”

He also says it’s the only video game bar in the city.

“We looked forward to starting up sooner rather than later and being the first people in Saskatoon,” said Orellana.

The bar offers patrons a library of just under 1,000 video games and a variety of consoles to choose from.

“The retro games, we like to keep a library from Nintendo all the way to Super Nintendo … and PlayStation 3 all the way to Xbox One are the newer versions of our games,” said Orellana.

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The restaurant and bar at 511 20th Street West is currently running a five-dollar special per person for unlimited gaming.

“We do serve reservations for our VIP. It’s $75 and it gives you three hours of the back room and hosts 20 to 30 people and you get your own server,” said Orellana.

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Customers must be at least 19 years of age and have valid ID to play.

“Having a photo driver’s licence is key here, it allows you to switch consoles and distribute the controllers to you,” said Orellana.

Bartari is Orellana’s first business venture with co-owner David Mah. They are offering gamers, who can already play online with each other, the chance to engage one another on multi-player games and socialize in person.

“The idea of having the video game is the social aspect,” said Orellana.

“Everybody knows that you can play at home and it’s something that we’d like to have people come out and socialize as a group.”

While dates, friends and adults who want to feel like a kid again can test their abilities on different consoles, they can also enjoy alcoholic beverages and pub-style food.

“As far as the drinking, we do provide special names that we have for our signature drinks … including names like ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ for a shot,” said Orellana.

A photo from inside the restaurant and bar at 511 20th Street West in Saskatoon. Dayne Winter / Global News

Skill and experience shouldn’t matter if you’ve become a little rusty with video games over the years, according to Orellana who’s 33 years old.

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“I used to be [a video game fanatic] and now it’s growing back on me. It’s nice to be able to play some of the older games I used to play like Street Fighter, Super Mario Brothers so between that and the newer systems it’s been nice to get back into,” said Orellana.

Bartari is open Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m. – 1 a.m., on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. and 3 – 11 p.m. on Sunday.

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