Photos and graphics courtesy of Spencer Ruegsegger
Retro is the future. From vinyl records to classic video game consoles, everything from the past is finding its way back into mainstream culture. In early 2019, Flint will be hopping back in time with the opening of a true 1980’s staple: an arcade bar.
Owners Spencer Ruegsegger and Kristy Bearse have wanted to add their personal touch to the downtown Flint area since they began dating. The now soon-to-be-wed couple remembers a time not so long ago when Flint’s nightlife consisted of no more than two or three places open past 5 p.m.
While the downtown area has seen a slew of new business popping up since then, Ruegsegger and Bearse believe their new arcade business will be able to offer Flintstones lively, retro and late night experiences but with a twist.
The Ebserson, named after John Eberson, the original architect of the Capitol Theatre where it will open next to, won’t be an ordinary arcade. It will be a hybrid combining two of the United States’ favorite pastimes: video games and alcohol. The goal is to provide that nostalgic atmosphere while also providing drinks and light dining.
“With the stiff competition in the downtown Flint bar/restaurant scene, The Eberson will be using the bar/arcade fusion model to differentiate itself,” said Ruegsegger. “We are positioning ourselves to be a popular destination after work or class, before or after dinner, or even late night bar hopping in the downtown area.”
The idea for The Eberson came from Ruegsegger and Bearse’s love for finding unique places to hang out that stray away from the beaten path.
“Some of our favorite places are Punch Bowl Social in Detroit, Stella’s in Grand Rapids and The Grid in Lansing. The commonality in all of those places is that they offer games and entertainment,” said Ruegsegger. “Another thing in common is that they are all quite a distance from Flint. We have visualized this in Flint for a very long time.”
Despite it not being the year 1985, arcades are far from being remnants of the past. Large companies like Dave and Busters have kept the spirit of arcade games alive for decades, albeit for younger audiences. The Eberson aims to differentiate itself from its competition.
“The Eberson will stand out from the big commercial arcades by offering up vintage games only,” said Ruegsegger. “The goal is to offer the games as a quarter per play, way cheaper than what the big guys are charging to play. As for the bar, we will have a wide array of domestic and craft products including 16 beers on draft, mocktails and small snacks; we will have something for everyone.”
Being that The Eberson is going to be a bar as well as an arcade, the business is going to be targeting an audience of 18 years of age and older. Families should have no fear though as anyone under 18-years-old will still be allowed and welcome to come enjoy the games and food until 9 p.m.
Ruegsegger and Bearse are trying to figure in special Sundays devoted to family entertainment, but nothing is set in stone yet.
“We are anticipating having 15 or more stand up, vintage games like Pac-man, Donkey Kong, Galaga and Asteroids to name a few,” said Ruegsegger. “There will be a mix of original and remakes. In addition to those, we will have some pinball machines, dart boards and a shuffleboard table.”
Opening up a new business in Flint is not an easy task to accomplish, but the owners are working hard to make The Eberson a long-lasting social hub.
“It feels like recently the ‘buzz’ of excitement for new places has grown so we feel that now is the perfect time,” said Ruegsegger. “We have dreams of owning several businesses, eventually. We want to invest in this city first.”