The competition heats up: pair of new arcade bars open in Edmonton Friday

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Pair of new arcade bars open in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Bars are making some big changes to get people in the door. It's no longer just about drinks and dancing. It's about an experience. Edmonton has two new arcade bars opening. Margeaux Maron has more on the concept. – Sep 19, 2019

Get a drink, enjoy some food and play some games.

It’s a concept that’s been around in Edmonton for a few years since the opening of establishments like The Rec Room and Beercade.

This week, the competition between arcades heats up as two more adult establishments open with similar concepts.

“We saw some places doing a really good job of the arcade bar but we saw some things that we could do to maybe make it even better,” said Casey Greabeiel with GRETA bar YEG.

The restaurateurs behind Hudsons Canada’s Pub transformed their 109 Street location in downtown Edmonton to GRETA, an arcade bar with 50 games, a craft cocktail menu and a food truck serving classic street food favourites.

“You truly experience the space and the concept if you never sit,” Greabeiel said. “It’s all about being social, it’s all about intermingling [and] getting to know people.”

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GRETA’s opening night is Friday, the same night as the grand opening of Midway, taking over the old Ranch nightclub on Calgary Trail.

READ MORE: Celebrated downtown Edmonton restaurant Hardware Grill closes its doors after 23 years

The newly renovated bar features dozens of arcade games, along with a menu of popular carnival food fare.

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“They’re going to be up, they’re going to be playing guitar hero, they’re going to be playing four-person Pac-Man and having a good time,” said James Voelpel with Midway.

While the concept isn’t new in Edmonton, commercial real estate expert Ben Volorney says the hospitality industry in Edmonton is shifting. More consumers are looking for more than dinner and drinks or dancing on their night out.

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“Whether they’re going for a cup of coffee, they can go somewhere where the roaster is in behind. If they’re going out for dinner, they can go somewhere the kitchen is on display,” Volorney said.

And landlords are looking for a strong business case in implementing these concepts.

“It’s a risky proposition if you peel out tables and peel out an area where people can sit to put in these games,” Volorney said. “It’s got to be well run [and] well executed.”

Volorney says more suburban options are also expected to pop up by the new year.

READ MORE: Edmonton wants your say on what pedestrian link between Ice District and Arts District should look like

“Do I think there could be 100 bars that have 50+ arcade games in them? No I don’t. I don’t think it’s a sustainable thing,” Greabeiel said.

While he welcomes more players in the market, Greabeiel says the best ones will stand out.

“I think that everyone who is currently in the market just has to find what they are, who they are and what they’re great at.”

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This leaves consumers as the winners as the competition heats up.

“The more the better for guests in general,” Voelpel said. “They’ll just end up being able to have more choice and decide which ones they like.”

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