Wondercade Gallery in WestwoodPhoto: provided by Wondercade

Westwood has its own video game district, thanks to the addition of companies Wondercade and Game N Groove, both of which opened this summer. Wondercade is a “retro-future” arcade filled with classic and contemporary video games and pinball machines and is open to all ages until 9pm, with adult food and drink available. Game N Groove buys and sells used video games, movies, and music, including classic and vintage items. The two companies are neighbors, suddenly making Westwood a destination of choice for gamers of all ages. It’s part of a promising trend for the neighborhood due to the resurgence of new businesses opening up in once vacant storefronts.

Interior of Wondercade provided by WondercadeWondercadePhoto: provided by Wondercade

Wondercade

Leslie and Bill Rich, owners of Wondercade, moved to Westwood together 18 years ago and started building their own collection of arcade machines. It all started with Space invaders. Asteroids came soon after. Then a pinball machine. After four or five game cabinets had been installed under their roof, the idea of ​​opening their own arcade came more and more into the conversation.

Over time, Leslie and Bill began to visit arcades to see how they functioned and understand how they would like to manage theirs. One of the biggest issues they encountered with many arcades was that children weren’t allowed in, which seemed counterintuitive since video games were originally marketed for children. and adolescents. So when the time came for them to open their establishment, they decided it would be for the whole family. While most of the newly opened arcades appear to be bars first and arcades second, Wondercade functions as an arcade serving food and drink – alcohol, if you wish.

“We found out that this was a huge niche that was not being served,” Bill says. “What we wanted to bring to the neighborhood was a place where you could bring your family and feel safe. “

“(Parents) want to share this experience with their kids and, here’s the thing, a lot of people think kids won’t like these (vintage) games,” Bill continues. “Totally wrong. Good games are good games, regardless of their age.

Inside, the arcade games are punctuated with neon lights and the air is filled with electronic beeps and friendly melodies. The Wondercade building was previously Keidel Supply’s main showroom for plumbing supplies, vacant for a decade before the Rich family renovated everything.

“It’s great to see people experience space the way we thought they would,” says Leslie. “Having a place where everyone can come and build this community of players in person after being apart for over a year (due to the pandemic) has been such a joy. I’m excited to see people of all ages come together, because I think it’s one of the few places where people who are united by the love of the game can interact intergenerationally.

There’s a solid mix of classic and old-school arcade games at Wondercade – Glove, Missile Command and others – alongside more modern titles such as The killer queen. Admission is an $ 8 pass – rising to $ 10 in 2022 – that gives you all-day access to the arcade (kids 5 and under are free). If you want to leave the arcade but come back later – say, to dine at Nation Kitchen & Bar’s Westwood restaurant or grab a few more beers at the West Side Brewing down the street – you can come home with a tampon in hand.

After 9 p.m., the arcade is geared towards those aged 18 and over, so be sure to drop those kids before you save Earth from pixelated space invaders. Wondercade, 3143 Harrison Ave., Westwood, wondercadecincy.com.

Game N Groove FacebookGame N GroovePhoto: facebook.com/gamengroove

Game N Groove

Right next to Wondercade is a new retail store where you can buy, trade, and sell video games, movies, music, and more. This store also didn’t open next to the arcade by chance. Company owner Kelon Buncher credits Bill Rich with the idea to move in.

“My wife grew up in Delhi and had taken him one day to look on the West Side (to open a business),” says Buncher. “Looking around, I met Bill Rich from Wondercade.”

Buncher and his business partner, Max Vignola, met Bill, who gave them a tour of the arcade before it opened.

He then said, ‘You know the building next door is for rent. You would perfectly complement the arcade, “and that was it,” Buncher says. “You can just see the potential of the Westwood business district and all the work that has already been done to make it a great area from the existing businesses. “

The layout of Game N Groove gets you in right next to the register counter. From there you can go ahead and jump straight to their vintage games section where you’ll find everything from Intellivision and Game Boy games and consoles to Sega CDs, with many Nintendo games from the Golden Age grouped together in a small alcove.

By pressing you can browse modern disc games and consoles for sale. There are examples of consoles connected to televisions if you want to play the games that staff members choose for the day.

The largest room is dedicated to Game N Groove’s huge DVD collection. This is the place to find this random season of Buffy the vampire slayer that you were looking for to complete your sanctuary dedicated to Sarah Michelle Gellar (and who is not?). Game N Groove’s VHS collection shares a room with all music media at the moment, while the team is building a dedicated music room which is still under construction.

“The neighborhood is great. It was a great and welcoming experience, ”Buncher said. “Westwood is a fun neighborhood.”

Westwood is a much more fun neighborhood these days, in part thanks to all those video games. Game N Groove, 3139 Harrison Ave., Westwood, facebook.com/gameNgroove.


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