SOUTHINGTON — After opening in January and having to shut down because of COVID-19, GameCraft Arcade & Bar is scheduled to reopen Thursday.
“We had to close for five months so at this point we were closed twice as long as we’ve been open,” said owner Brody Marion. “So that was already a big impact for us being able to only operate for about 10 weeks before being forced to close.”
In order to comply with health and safety guidelines, GameCraft, located in Southington’s Factory Square, had to serve food.
“I would say one of the biggest ones is trying to find a way to still use the games that we got and make sure that it is still safe and up to health code,” Marion said. “That was a big challenge and finding a way for us to get food into the place even though we don’t actually have a kitchen.
“There were requirements that were given to us by the state that we had to follow and it took a lot of time for us to get a solution that kind of worked for everybody,” he said. “Thankfully we did get there, obviously, because we would not be cleared to open.”
Paul Gregory’s Bistro Cafe serves food at Witchdoctor Brewing Company, which is just next door to GameCraft and a beer provider to the bar. After speaking with GameCraft, Paul Gregory’s decided to team up and provide food to GameCraft as well.
“I know it has been a very rough time for them during COVID-19 so we want to help them get on their feet and just keep it a safe environment because we are taking precaution with everything,” said Ashley Malloy, Paul Gregory’s head chef and part-owner. “Our staff has been on point with all of the coronavirus rules for restaurants to be open so we’re just hoping that we can help them make some business and stay afloat because small businesses are struggling right now.”
Paul Gregory’s plans to serve an assortment of bar food, including quesadillas, wings, pulled pork sliders, fries, mozzarella sticks and onion rings.
Along with serving food, GameCraft had to pull about 15 games off the floor to accommodate social distancing and barrier requirements.
“We had to build barriers between every single game that can be cleaned at the end of the night and during the day if needed,” Marion said. “If there’s not a barrier, a game is six feet apart from another one or six feet apart from a table. Everything has separation or an additional barrier to make sure no one is breathing on each other, nothing like that is happening.”
GameCraft has some of the popular games out on the floor including Guitar Hero, Tetris, Street Fighter and eight pinball machines.
Along with the barriers, hand sanitizer is provided at every game and customers are offered gloves before entering the bar.
Plexiglass is also put up behind the bar so there’s a separation between employees and customers, the garage will be opened to allow in fresh air and customers are only allowed to eat and drink while seated. Another barrier was installed where the food service is located.
“I am always washing my equipment, wiping everything down,” Malloy said.
Because Paul Gregory’s is also waiting on customers, all waiters and waitresses are wearing gloves and masks and are sanitizing all equipment.
Marion said he’s excited to open up again to offer customers a safe form of entertainment.
“It’s been so long without anyone really being able to enjoy that,” Marion said. “To me, these games are meant to be played and it feels really different here when everything is actually on and all of the lights and sounds are going off versus now when it is kind of always dark and quiet. It’s just not the same. I miss all of it.”