WATERLOO — There’s a new game in town. Lots and lots of games, in fact.
Spicoli’s Grill and the Reverb Rockgarden in Waterloo will soon transform half of its University Avenue space into an arcade, with nine pinball machines and a couple dozen arcade and shooter-type games.
It’s not quite a bar arcade the likes of Up/Down in Des Moines, where the entire space is taken up with machines. Instead, Spicoli’s will continue live rock shows on a regular basis, assures co-owner Cody Winther, who books and promotes the bands.
“Hopefully, it’s going to increase business, increase foot traffic,” Winther said. “The music part is easy — it’s filling the other half.”
The new “Spicoli’s Rockade,” as the venue will be known beginning in June, hopes to benefit both from its existing clientele of live-music aficionados as well as expanding its appeal as a “destination” adult arcade.
“You’re not changing much, just bringing more things in here,” said Rick Uhlenhopp, who will bring and service 15 to 20 arcade games.
Spicoli’s will transform to the Rockade in the first weekend of June, taking a few days off to clear out the south half of the venue to make way for those arcade games as well as nine pinball machines that will be serviced by Carah and Troy Evans, previously featured in The Courier for their vast collection of pinball machines.
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“We are going to put our hearts and souls into it,” Carah Evans said.
Uhlenhopp said it was “the biggest coincidence” that brought it all together: He was at Rudy’s Tacos in Waterloo chatting about his arcade machines and how he wanted to start an arcade bar, and spotted Spicoli’s co-owner Rob Dunn, who mentioned getting it started at his bar.
“I can provide all the arcade games, but nothing with pinball. That’s where these two (Carah and Troy Evans) come in,” he said.
The Evanses and Uhlenhopp will retain all profits from the machines and be responsible for maintenance, while Winther and Dunn are betting on an increase in drink and food sales — an unusual, if slightly less risky, arrangement for both parties.
Carah Evans said she hopes once the machines are in place, she’ll be able to start a pinball league.
“We are happy to bring pinball and arcade games back to life in this area,” she said.
The grand opening for the Spicoli’s Rockade is set for 4 p.m. Friday, June 3.