Barstool: Boxcar Bar & Arcade fills a void

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One Sunday late last year — before I started writing this column — my husband and I sat on the porch at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing in downtown Greensboro, working through the Triad City Beat crossword and drinking an alphabet soup of abbreviations (ESB, IPA). Across the street, construction was underway, for what we didn’t know. At the time, sandbags and other detritus were a nuisance because they meant no parking in what would have otherwise been highly coveted spots; no one wants to pay for parking in the adjacent lot across the railroad tracks.

Wooden beams jutting out from the building made us think casual bistro or slightly upscale bar and grill. Imagine our surprise when we learned that the patio would soon be attached to a bar and arcade.

And Boxcar Bar & Arcade, which opened on Jan. 26 after the success of its first location in Raleigh, gets both elements right. The bar, which has plenty of seating, is pleasant during the day thanks to a skylight built into the roof.

Everyone can enjoy the libations, from scotch drinkers to Bud Light nursers. Some surprises on the craft beer side include Elysian Brewing Space Dust IPA and Great Divide Yeti stout. Foothill’s first beer in their Craft Happiness IPA series had already arrived on tap by last weekend.

The $1 Sunday mimosas are pretty good, with no shortage on champagne, especially if you double it for $1 more. By the time we started playing air hockey, I wondered how anyone could drink more than one mimosa and still be able to keep track of the puck.

Every drink purchased earns you two tokens for game playing, and tokens can also be purchased at the bar (in $5 increments) and at a machine. Five bucks gives you 20 tokens, which sounds like a lot until you start playing. Most games take four tokens, with skeeball, Mario Kart and others requiring only two.

Speaking of games, it’s clear the arcade was planned with nostalgic millennials and young Gen Xers in mind. There are mainstays like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Pac Man, and superhero games such as Superman and Spiderman. Shooters like Big Buck Hunter stood unused while young and old alike flocked to Dance Dance Revolution. A middle-aged dad and his five-year-old son tentatively tested the pads after two young guys in their twenties expertly stamped on the platform in time to pop music.

Watching them reminded me how I felt when I played Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo recently for the first time in nearly two decades. The music and the motions are a kind of choreography, luring you into the rhythm of gameplay that you memorized as a kid.

It’s nostalgia like this — and the transference of it from one generation to the next — that can make Boxcar Bar & Arcade a mainstay in Greensboro’s South End.