Downtown Detroit is gearing up to get its very own arcade bar. The new watering hole for gamers, Ready Player One, is slated to land on the lower level of the of the recently redesigned Globe Tobacco Building at 407 E. Fort St.
Details on the project are limited. Eater has reached out to the owners of Ready Player One for more information. The bar appears to have been in the works since 2015, although according to a Redditor who shared details of the spot over the weekend construction has only been underway for the past few weeks. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission shows that the operator, Badgharb, LLC, has an application pending for a liquor license transfer. According to several recent job postings shared on social media, it will also likely feature a kitchen.
The name Ready Player One is a reference to a science fiction novel by Ernest Cline that’s set in a dystopian future where people use a virtual reality simulator to escape their troubles. The main character is also a fan of classic video games like the ones that will presumably be featured at the downtown bar.
Arcade bars are popular across the country, though they’ve been slower to catch on in metro Detroit. Terry’s Terrace in Harrison Township recently opened a “beercade” and here in the city a vintage video game pop-up, Offworld Arcade, launched several years ago. Stay tuned for updates on Ready Player One.
Update, 4:45 p.m., 3/22: Wael Gharbie, a partner in Ready Player One, tells Eater that he and co-owner Mohamed Badaoui are aiming to launch their bar and arcade this spring.
Gharbie, a firefighter by trade, says he and his business partner are lifelong gamers who first met in high school. Several years ago, Badaoui returned to metro Detroit after helping open several pizzerias in Iowa and the pair reconnected with the intention of opening their own restaurant. “Every major city has at least one [arcade bar],” says Gharbie. “Why not in Detroit?”
Ready Player One will have a “nostalgic feel,” with around 40 machines — 10 pinball machines and 30 arcade games. The space will offer seats for roughly 65 patrons with a much larger standing capacity to accommodate gaming.
The bar won’t be charging a cover and plans to run on a “free play model” with tokens handed out to paying customers. “So long as you’re in there ordering food and ordering drinks, we’re going to be very generous with the tokens,” Gharbi says. The menu for the bar and restaurant are still being finalized but customers can expect affordable, “blue collar craft cocktails.”
Ready Player One is aiming to launch between late-April and early May.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Badaoui’s last name and misstated the location where he previously worked. Eater regrets the error.
• New Arcade Bar: Ready Player One [Reddit]
• Inside The Redesigned Globe Tobacco Building [CDET]
• Ready Player One Facebook [Official]