Abari merges an arcade with cocktails, craft beer

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Have you ever wondered if you would ever be able to play your fave classic Nintendo 64 game again? Most of us either tossed, lost or misplaced our favorite childhood games and game systems long ago. Whether you are feeling nostalgic or a true gamer, I have some good news for you. Abari Game Bar, the first of it’s kind in the Q.C., is slated to open this summer. Not only will you be able to reminisce on the classics, but you’ll be able to do it while drinking craft beer and cocktails. The arcade gods have finally answered gamers’ prayers and trust me you should be geeked!

Last week, my cousin and I headed to Growlers Pourhouse in NoDa where we were going to chat with the innovator of Abari, Zach Pulliam, and one of his close friends. I had FB messaged the business page a couple weeks earlier, and after re-scheduling a meetup, I was finally going to get the scoop on the new arcade bar.

It wasn’t until we were already in our Uber and on our way there that I realized how awkward it is to describe yourself to someone via text. What is proper protocol? Do you take the time to describe everything you are wearing? I started typing, “Not sure how to say this but it’ll be two black girls lol...” Before I could make up my mind on whether or not to send, we were there and I decided on, “I’m here!” with the hope that he would see the text as soon as we walked in.

Nervous if we would have to exchange a series of awkward texts before finding one another, I went straight to the bar. Luckily, while there I overheard the bartender address someone as Zach shortly after we ordered. I asked him if he was the same Zach that was opening the new game bar and to my relief he said yes. #crisisaverted

We grabbed a high top table and after a couple long gulps we jumped right in to the interview. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly worried that an owner of an arcade bar may not be as outgoing as I was, but that’s not Zach. He started out somewhat reserved yet down-to-earth (where did that saying come from anyways) and from exchanging numbers I found out he was from the best area code N.C. has to offer outside of the 704, you got it 336!

Located at 1721 N. Davidson St. and flashing local street art, Abari — the name comes from the fusion of “a bar” and “Atari” the popular game maker — will feature 27 arcade games, seven pinball machines and four console games in a 1500-square-foot space. They will have around eight taps with local craft beer, cocktails and $1.50 PBR. Now that’s what I call a gamer’s heaven. Guests will have to start a tab (whether partaking in spirits or not) in order to obtain access to each game and the cost for play is a matter of fishing out all those old quarters laying around your car.

A couple beers later, I was reminiscing about going to the laundromat as a young buck with my mom. In a feeble attempt to take my mind of the dreaded nature of the laundromat, we would play a Pac-Man/Galaga machine. To this day, while everyone else is playing darts, I never miss a chance to play that game when I spot one at a bar (so far in Charlotte I’ve played at the Gin Mill, Blind Pig and Tin Roof).

I asked him about some of his favorite arcade games that will be featured — among them were Donkey Kong 3 and X-Men (6 player), but it was clear after we started talking that finding a favorite among the wide variety of games they have acquired is close to impossible. Later on, his friend exclaimed, “It’s like Chuck E. Cheese’s!” But this time the adults really get to play. Don’t worry though parents, the bar will be kid-friendly between 12 and 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, so family fun is still a possibility.

The exact date for the opening of Abari isn’t pinned down yet. As with every great adventure, there have been obstacles along the way, but in Lil’ Wayne fashion — “Sorry for the Wait” mixtape reference — you can rest assured that once it does, it will add something special to the eclectic vibe on NoDa. Get ready to play gamers!

Learn more about Abari Game Bar and be the first to find out when they are opening by checking out their website at abarigamebar.com, following them on instagram @abarigamebar or liking them on Facebook.

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