Brewcade, the Castro's popular arcade bar, is set to celebrate its first anniversary next weekend, with a birthday bash that includes free games, complimentary popcorn and ice cream and hot dogs for sale.
Opened in December 2014 by Blackbird owners Shawn Vergara and Tiffny Vergara Chung, Brewcade was a hit out of the gate, but business began to falter once the initial novelty wore off.
Taking customer feedback into account, the bar's team quickly made some changes, particularly with regard to design and layout issues. Customers had complained about the bar's original layout, which had many game cabinets set up in closed-off sections, making it hard to play without bumping into someone else. A lack of seating was another issue.
Reconfigured layout that includes more seating.
"We listened to the feedback, and changed the layout to mix up gaming and seating," Vergara told us. "After that, we quickly saw a positive response in feedback and business."
"We also realized that we wanted to add more personality to the space to keep things interesting," he said, noting that the bar has been working with different artists to add interesting installations to the space.
But just after it reconfigured the space, Brewcade faced another major hurdle: a fire broke out between the walls of the bar and neighboring restaurant Hecho. Despite reopening quickly after the blaze, "we definitely saw a change in business," Vergara said. "It affected us for about a month, but did not hurt us in the long run."
Brewcade offers a wide selection of craft beers.
In addition to the layout, the game selection has changed. When Brewcade opened, most of its machines were vintage, but customers began requesting more modern titles, particularly Killer Queen, an indie interaction game. A blend of Joust and Starcraft, it pits two five-player teams against each other, forcing each team to work together in order to win.
It's become so popular that Brewcade now hosts weekly Killer Queen meet-ups on Mondays and league nights on Wednesdays. "Killer Queen brings people together and we have formed a community around it," Vergara said. "I think it's really a way for people to forget how stressful life can be, and just have some fun."
Another new addition: pinball machines. The bar had none when it first opened, but there's now a variety of them located up front. Brewcade recently brought on an events coordinator, who will be continually assessing gaming trends and making necessary changes to the game lineup, as well as creating and promoting special nights at the arcade. "The options are endless," Vergara said.
Brewcade's newest event is Cosmic Arcade Night, a riff on cosmic bowling that runs every Friday. The space is lit by blacklights, and everything in the arcade, from the menu board to the alphabet magnet wall, really pops. Friday-night attendees are strongly encouraged to wear blacklight-reactive clothing, makeup and other accessories.
Next Saturday's birthday bash will feature gourmet hot dogs from Let's Be Frank and ice cream from Shakedown, an up-and-coming Tenderloin creamery. All games will be on free play mode from 2-8pm, so feel free to leave your quarters at home.
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