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Jourdan Adler collects vintage games. Over the past year, he's acquired close to thirty original uprights, including Galaga, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, that all date back to 1985 or earlier. He's even found a handful of cocktail-table video games, and he's restored them all to mint condition.
Soon he'll be sharing them with the public at The 1Up, an arcade, bar and restaurant at 1925 Blake Street, in the former home of Blues on Blake. Although Adler's idea isn't new — New York has Barcade, Texas Barcadia — there's nothing like it in Denver. "I think the concept is going to be a breath of fresh air for downtown," Adler says. "I think it's going to be completely different, something nobody's tried yet here."
Adler, who worked at Wahoo's Fish Taco in Denver from 2001 to 2005, wound up buying franchise rights and opening a Wahoo's in Austin, Texas. That's where he got the idea of opening an arcade bar. "I hadn't really heard of Barcade or Barcadia," he says, "and I thought, 'God, wouldn't it be great to open a vintage arcade bar?' And I started collecting games, but a few months after I started collecting games, I noticed a sign across the street from Wahoo's that said, 'Coming soon: Kung Fu Saloon — vintage arcade bar.' And I was like, you gotta be kidding me. It was the like the ultimate slap in the face. Really? Across the street?"
1925 Blake St.
Denver, CO 80202
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Downtown Denver
So instead of opening his place in Austin, Adler ended up selling Kung Fu the games that he'd already collected and helping the owners find some new ones. In the meantime, he started collecting more games for the spot he now planned to open in Denver with partner Mark Zupan, the wheelchair rugby star featured in the documentary Murderball. And when they found the 5,400-square-foot space that Blues on Blake had vacated last year, they knew they had the perfect LoDo location.
Named after the green mushroom in Mario Brothers when you get the free guy or when player one is up at the start of a game, the 1Up will also have two lanes of Skee-Ball, eight pinball machines and a display case full of vintage home-game consoles, such as an Atari 2600, Bally Astrocade, Intellivision and CalecoVision, all made between 1977 and 1983, and all in their original boxes. Adler's also blowing up and hanging some vintage fliers that were sent to arcade owners in the '80s. He's recruited Mike Ortiz and Jonathan Lamb of Like Minded Productions to style out the bathrooms with vintage arcade art, and has Jason Garcia, one of the live painters with STS9, repainting the mural behind the stage area.
The 1Up is opening soft this week, but Adler hopes to have it going full steam by April 1, opening day for the Rockies. And because man does not live by video games alone, the kitchen will serve a full menu of upscale twists on bar food, including a quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger on a glazed doughnut.
Club scout: Speaking of arcade games, Celebrity Lanes and Taphouse is looking for an August opening at 15401-15739 East Arapahoe Road in Centennial. The 50,000-square-foot entertainment center will have forty lanes, arcade games, bocce courts, a sports grill and a taphouse. Its name is an homage to Celebrity Sports Center, which closed in 1994 after more than three decades on South Colorado Boulevard.