Diehard gamers prepare for arcade overload. Downtown Detroit’s latest dose of boozy gaming nostalgia, Ready Player One, is preparing to open to the public next week inside the recently renovated Globe Tobacco Building at 407 E. Fort St.
Partner Wael Gharbie tells Eater that Ready Player One is hosting friends and family-only pre-opening events this Friday and Saturday, and an invite-only event on Sunday for followers who signed on as “beta testers” earlier this week. If all goes smoothly with the test run, the arcade bar will likely open to the public next Friday, October 20.
Ready Player One was developed by Gharbie and his longtime friend and co-owner Mahamed Badaoui, both of whom are lifelong gamers. The bar, located on the lower level of the Globe Tobacco Building at the corner of Brush and Fort Street, is named after a science fiction novel by Ernest Cline that explores a dystopian future where people use virtual reality simulators to escape their troubles. The books main character also happens to be a fan of classic video games.
The arcade bar will has roughly 80 seats including the bar and features “pop culture-centered as well as Detroit-centered” murals by local artists, Gharbie says. Customers can also look forward to roughly 40 vintage arcade and pinball machines. There’s even a Nintendo 64.
Instead running on quarters, the games will operate on a “free play” system. Patrons will receive a generous supply of tokens from bartenders and servers each time they order drinks or food. The amount of tokens will likely vary, according to Gharbie. “We’re not going to set an exact number [of tokens] with our bartenders or servers, but we told them to spread it out don’t be stingy,” he says.
General manager Nick Silas helped develop the bar menu, which promises “blue collar” cocktails such as the Pac-Man Sour with pineapple-infused pisco, honey simple syrup, lemon, lime, and egg white or the Crash Bandicoot — a mixture of blueberry gin, lavender simple syrup, club soda, and an orange peel.
Jordan Ceresnie has also joined the Ready Player One team as executive chef. While the menu will be limited during the initial soft launch, diners can expect items like chicken wings served with Rock ‘n’ Rye barbecue sauce, avocado fritters with chipotle mayo, and meatloaf sliders with arugula, tomato jam, and buttermilk onions on a brioche bun. The goal of the overall restaurant and bar menu is “affordability,” Gharbie says.
This is the second arcade bar to open downtown in the span of two months. In September, former traveling gaming pop-up Offworld Arcade found a more permanent home on the second floor of Checker Bar. Next year, the grandaddy of arcade bars — Barcade — is poised to open an outpost at 666 Selden St. in Cass Corridor.
Ready Player One will open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday. Closed Mondays for private events.