While we’re all presumably very busy doing grown-up things and living grown-up lives, let’s pause for a moment to remember a much simpler, much weirder time: adolescence. Those post-training wheels but pre-learner’s-permit years. That strange no-man’s land peppered with chaperones and after-school specials. And as you remember this time—this weirdly-beautiful and universally-strange time—imagine the physical space in which it sits. That communal place for the coming-of-age experience.
Your friend’s cool basement.
There seems to be a shared nostalgia dormant within many of us for a good basement. Whether these feelings are founded in reality or merely the product of so many years of syndication, there’s something to be said for the quiet, warm comfort that comes from being down a set of stairs. The friends’ homes that housed good basements always gave off an air of suburban decadence. They had name brand snacks. They had soda. They had cable TV and a video game console. And it’s this same feeling of sack-lunch-luxe, this possibility of boundless vice consumption and I can’t believe you have this game straight-up wonderment that one is met with through the doors of Quarters.
Sat snuggly inside the old Manhattan Club space on Main Street, Quarters Arcade Bar is capitalizing on a sense of nostalgia that has made a mean resurgence in recent years. And, while arcade and video games may forever be lit with the glow of juvinility, the fact is that the kids who grew up during the rise of Atari 2600 are now in their 50s (and, for a bit of perhaps-more-disturbing perspective, the kids that were first in line for Nintendo 64 are now well into their 30s). Immature? Maybe. Childish? Absolutely. A worthy way to spend an hour or two screaming at both friends and strangers while trying to regain the muscle memory to finally take down Raiden in Mortal Kombat? Hell yeah.
See, it’s all the unsupervised fun you’ve missed, but this time you’re allowed to drink.
That’s the vibe at Quarters: the familiarity of a place you’ve been, once upon a coed birthday party. A place with few rules and hours of unadulterated fun at your fingertips. Katy Willis and Michael Eccleston, the booze-slinging duo behind the space, wanted to create a place where everyone—from college kids who’d never heard of Asteroids to the seasoned pros that monopolize the leaderboard—would feel at home. The full bar offers beer and booze-forward cocktails (try the La Croix Boi, mixed and served in the can, the Tecate dressed in hot sauce and lime, or the glow-in-the-dark Techno Pagan), and, while they don’t currently have a kitchen, Katy and Michael encourage patrons to bring snacks or have dinner delivered (Doordash is ace, and many of Quarters’ neighbors--Apollo Burger, J. Dawgs, and Pie Hole among them--deliver straight to the bar). In the interest of getting better acquainted with SLC's newest/coolest/nerdiest after-hours hotspot, we chatted with Katy about Pac Man, pinball, and playing games like a grown-up.
Quarters Arcade Bar | 5 E. 400 S.
Give it to us real quick-like—why does SLC need Quarters? Salt Lake has been in need of a fun arcade bar for a while now. With all the nerdy conventions, massive tech companies, local game producers and awesome cosplayers, we knew this concept would be a blast in SLC so after 3 and a half years of working on this project - here we are!
We’re a bit partial to Galaga on our end. Which of Quarters’ games can we find you camped out at on any given night (and have the masses agreed with you thus far)? Gah, Galaga has been surprisingly hard to find! We really want one so if anyone has a lead... HOOK US UP! Anyways, Michael and I love pinball so you'll see us rocking Hook or Judge Dred. We are also LOVING Killer Queen. Our customers and staff are super into it so it's always fun to play. All of the games in the bar seem to be getting lots of love though. I was excited about our board gaming library, but didn't know if people would use it and it has been a surprise hit! The other day a group of friends even brought their own board games from home which I thought was great.
It seems there’s been a surge in sentimental, 80s-based media in the last decade or so (Tron and It reboots, the cultural event that is Stranger Things, the nostalgia-crammed Ready Player One). What do you attribute this to, and how is Quarters harnessing that resurgence in 8-bit affection? The theme in most of these movies and TV shows has to do with connecting to others - being a part of friend groups, finding romantic partners and learning to love and understand your family. Maybe with the internet and smart phones and Netflix, we feel like we are missing out on creating relationships in the real world. At Quarters, we wanted to use the popularity (and obviously the fun) of gaming to bring people together. Two people could seem to have nothing in common, but perhaps they share a passion for Pac Man or pinball. It gives a common ground to start a conversation that they may have never had the chance to start otherwise. Honestly, it's hard to meet new people as an adult outside of work and we hope Quarters can help people break the ice with each other through gaming.
Give us a character sketch of the person that should get to Quarters stat—what do they love? What do they hate? What are they looking for on a Saturday night? Our goal with Quarters was to have a little something for everyone, so I hope a lot of different kinds of people can feel at home in our bar. It all boils down to if you want to have a good drink and some fun in a social, high energy environment then you should probably check our Quarters.