Beer Research Institute opens arcade and taproom in downtown Mesa

Downtown Mesa’s bar scene has gotten better, thanks to the folks at the Beer Research Institute. In early April, the local brewery opened a spin-off bar and arcade on Main Street near Robson, which features 44 retro coin-operated games and more than a dozen craft beers on tap.

The 4,000 square foot business is downtown Mesa’s first-ever game bar. Owner Matt Tretheway says its mix of arcade and pinball games not only differentiates the location from BRI’s original location on Stapley Drive and Baseline Road, but also helps it stand out from other breweries that have opened along Main Street in recent years.

“This one-mile area of ​​Mesa is going to be denser in breweries than any real estate area in the entire Phoenix market, I believe,” he says. “And when we started exploring the idea of ​​making a [second location]I was like, ‘Let’s do something really cool and unique, like a bar with an archway.’ »

BRI Taproom & Arcade’s game selection rivals most other local game bars. Along one wall is an array of over 20 classic joysticks, ranging from standard such as Street Fighter II and Galaga choose rarities like Lunar Patrol and the mechanical game of 1983 ice cold beer. There is also a collection of vintage Nintendo arcade cabinets, including donkey kong and its two suites, popeyethe original Mario Brothers.and one PlayChoice-10.

Elsewhere you will find Carnage, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s super off-roaderand Gloveas well as a seated “cocktail” version of Qix and four-player favorites like The simpsons and x-men.

The majority of arcade games come from the personal collection of Tretheway, a self-proclaimed “80s kid” who began hoarding them in recent years. And it all started with the beer throwing arcade game Typewhich he thinks would be a perfect fit for the Beer Research Institute.

Click to enlarge

A collection of classic Nintendo arcade games in BRI Taproom & Arcade.

Benjamin Leatherman

“I mean, it’s just perfect for a brewery, just a perfect fit. And in 2020, I found one that I could acquire,” he says. “After that I kind of caught the virus and a week later I had donkey kong then started buying video games.

The BRI Taproom & Arcade also has nine pinball machines on loan from local collectors, located along its west wall. It’s a mix of popular titles like The Walking Dead with favorites as old as Terminator 2 and The creature from the black lagoon.

Click to enlarge BIS owner Matt Tretheway.  - BENJAMIN CUIRIER

BIS owner Matt Tretheway.

Benjamin Leatherman

Everything runs on tokens, which the 47-year-old Valley says is part of “trying to keep a classic arcade vibe” he experienced growing up.

“I was born in 1974, so I was alive when arcades came into fashion. I grew up with video games and they’re part of my personal culture,” he says. “When I was in high school , I actually worked in an arcade for a few different summers. It’s kind of a passion project for me.

It took more than a year for Tretheway, a former Cheba Hut and Cold Stone Creamery executive who worked in the restaurant industry for decades, to launch the arcade bar. Originally slated to open last summer, the project has been delayed due to problems with renovations to its building (the former home of a church and art gallery) and infrastructure, including problems plumbing issues that have since been resolved.

“This project took about a year [to develop],” he says. “I’ve opened 164 retail food establishments in my career. It’s been the longest and most arduous process and project I’ve ever been involved in. But we’re open now, so everything is fine.

Timing ended up working in its favor, as BRI Taproom & Arcade debuted a few weeks before ZapCon, the annual classic arcade and pinball convention from April 30 to May 1 at the nearby Mesa Convention Center. (Tretheway says they’ll be hosting both a pre-party and an after-party for the event.”

“Opening right before ZapCon is super awesome and a fluke,” he says. “People can drop by early, have a few beers, then go hang out and play games [at the convention]. Then they can go back, drink more beer and play even more games. Sounds like a perfect weekend to me.

David H. Henry