If you want a laid-back place to hang out that’s a mashup of a restaurant-meets-hip bar-meets-retro entertainment venue, where everyone from kids to grandparents is having the time of their lives, then head to Recbar in Jeffersontown. This eclectic spot has everything from tasty food and creative libations to 10,000 square feet bursting with crazy arcade games and classic pinball machines.
Whose genius ideas was it to pair a vintage arcade hall concept with an awesome bar and grill? The credit goes to Tony Thomas and Corey Sims — two Louisville natives, restaurant professionals and old-school gaming enthusiasts.
The men began their venture as a side gig a few years back, placing video game machines in bars throughout Fourth Street Live! dining and entertainment destination in downtown Louisville. The “Golden Tee” machine was the first to find a home at Tavern on Fourth. “It just kind of grew after that,” says General Manager Andrew Leonard. “They’d make a little money and put that into buying more games until they had a bunch of games sitting around and didn’t know what to do with them. They’d always wanted to do something like Recbar. It was their dream.”
Recbar opened in April 2016, and the restaurant expanded rapidly, more so than any of them could have imagined. In two and a half years, the 5,000-square-foot space doubled in size. When they first opened, there were only about 40 arcade games and eight pinball machines in two rooms, but now there are four huge rooms housing more than 60 video arcade games and more than 65 pinball machines. They have so many games, they’re able to rotate and switch out machines from time to time to keep things fresh. The games have become so popular that every Sunday night, Recbar holds professional pinball tournaments that last anywhere from six to seven hours at a stretch.
The draw of classic, as well as newer, games beckons in a varied clientele. “It’s amazing to see who we get out here,” says Andrew. “On a Saturday night, I can see a 21-year-old taking his first shot at the bar and playing one of these games, and at the same machine, there’s a 65-year-old with a beer in hand just loving life. It’s fun to see generations blend and relate over something. It’s fantastic.”
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