(Topic ID: 182409)

Is a coffee-cade viable?


By NJGecko

2 years ago



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  • 41 posts
  • 36 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 2 years ago by ercvacation
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    #1 2 years ago

    Two years ago I posted
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ot-pondering-opening-an-arcade-in-nnj

    I'm really rat-raced out, and conventional wisdom says to just shoulder through for a few more years.

    But I'm wondering if it could work...

    My thoughts would be a location with some foot traffic, but a lot of accessible parking. Serve coffee and light food, have some comfy seating and a back room or separate area with a handful of well-tended to pins. Open up for leagues, showcase some nice pins.

    I know it would be a lot of time and effort and money expended in the process...but I think it's a somewhat unique idea, and a different take on barcades which are increasing in popularity.

    From a business perspective, I'm still contemplating, but wondering if there is any income potential to this or if it would likely be a labor of love...

    #2 2 years ago

    The right location and anything is possible. I have often thought a coffee-cade that also serves beer is a good idea. Depending on how difficult it is to get a beer selling permit in your area...

    I have always thought it is odd to have the overhead of a coffe shop that is only open in the morning. Seems like a no brainer to make it dual duty and sell beer and sandwiches after noon till the place closes.

    #3 2 years ago
    Quoted from NJGecko:

    Two years ago I posted
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/ot-pondering-opening-an-arcade-in-nnj
    I'm really rat-raced out, and conventional wisdom says to just shoulder through for a few more years.
    But I'm wondering if it could work...
    My thoughts would be a location with some foot traffic, but a lot of accessible parking. Serve coffee and light food, have some comfy seating and a back room or separate area with a handful of well-tended to pins. Open up for leagues, showcase some nice pins.
    I know it would be a lot of time and effort and money expended in the process...but I think it's a somewhat unique idea, and a different take on barcades which are increasing in popularity.
    From a business perspective, I'm still contemplating, but wondering if there is any income potential to this or if it would likely be a labor of love...

    It's hard to mess up a coffee shop with simple sandwich makers cranking out panini-style sandwiches and whatnot. The cheap, easy option to test the waters would be to have a few cocktail games. Provides seating and a table and would bring in your desired crowd with a bit of something different without being too over the top or off-putting. Kooky, but not in your face and if it is well-received you can add in a few more games based on what your customers tell you. Better than dropping $7k per machine that might not provide a good return on the investment.

    11
    #4 2 years ago

    Coffee shops on the west coast are full of smug pretentious people that look all annoyed if people come in and talk loud or bring children with them as they sit and act like CEOs on a laptop in the corner

    #5 2 years ago

    I would be concerned that pinball machines are too loud for a coffee shop atmosphere. By comparison, I expect a bar to be louder so I think they work great there. I like the cocktail game table suggestion though.

    #6 2 years ago
    Quoted from ZeldaOoT:

    I would be concerned that pinball machines are too loud for a coffee shop atmosphere. By comparison, I expect a bar to be louder so I think they work great there. I like the cocktail game table suggestion though.

    all EMs would be sweet for a coffee place IMO

    #7 2 years ago

    One just open a little while ago in Maryland.

    http://www.coffeecade.net

    #8 2 years ago

    I personally wouldn't want to enter a business environment where the largest competitor owns nearly 99% market share and has optimized nearly every little thing. I'd figure out a different novelty.

    #9 2 years ago

    There is a spot in London... http://www.chief-coffee.com/

    I think it could work. I'm a huge coffee fanatic, and a total pinball nerd, so it's a dream place for me!

    However, I think MOST people hit up a coffee shop to relax, or chat with friends, and the noise of pinball is counter to that.

    #10 2 years ago

    Has anyone tried an airport barcade? I'm wondering if the overhead of an airport might make it impossible but otherwise seems interesting.. people with time to kill held hostage

    #11 2 years ago

    No.

    It's very clear that the only way business works is a flat fee with a ton of games (Galloping Ghost) or a bar. Even living in Chicago with 6+ barcades, the games are a bit of an afterthought to the social bar environment. At the end of the day, it's the alcohol that's paying the bills.
    I admire you wanting to give an arcade to the community, but it's not 1990 anymore. People aren't going to be pumping quarters into games non stop all day.

    If anything, you'd have to focus on paying the rent with coffee and food. To that point - what's the competition like around town? Are other businesses striving or barely holding on? Don't count on anybody caring about the pins. Not to mention, getting business licenses, getting up to code, running a food based business is a whole other obstacle. Do you have any experience in that?

    I regularly work from coffee shops around Chicago. One has a 60-in-1 FREE cocktail that I've never seen anybody play. More-so, people go to a coffee shop to read and chill and work - not socialize and play loud games. Would I go to a coffee shop that had pins? Yes. But I make up a VERY small demographic.

    Don't mean to be negative or discouraging, but that's simply how I feel it is.

    #12 2 years ago
    Quoted from MapleSyrup:

    There is a spot in London... http://www.chief-coffee.com/
    I think it could work. I'm a huge coffee fanatic, and a total pinball nerd, so it's a dream place for me!
    However, I think MOST people hit up a coffee shop to relax, or chat with friends, and the noise of pinball is counter to that.

    Agreed; one potential idea would be to make the games your draw (e.g. name the place "Retro Buzz" or something and set up in an environment where you try to draw office workers like me in a downtown core to your place for lunch or whatever.

    But I am still not wild about that idea. Coffee is tough; it is one of the beverages that is even more prevalent than liquor. Being EVERYWHERE vs. almost everywhere...

    #13 2 years ago

    I'm thinking no. Gaming and coffee are not really compatible. People seem to like to go to coffee shops to work on their laptops, hang out, relax etc.

    Getting pinheads there won't be too tough but I'm thinking the coffee crowd will go somewhere else.

    I did go to an establishment like this once - WOW in Ithaca, New York, about 13 or 14 years back when I was dating a Cornell student. A friend of mine, who used to live there, had some buddies - big pin fans who had started a bit of an add-a-ball cult up there due to a bunch of Dimensions and Gold Strikes being around - who started a coffee shop. They had an AFM, a Batman forever, and something else I think. It was a chill coffee shop in the best location around Ithaca (the commons), it was large and roomy, and had the coffee shop vibe. I thought it was pretty cool. When she was in class one day I spent a couple hours there and played a bunch of AFM. I didn't buy any coffee or muffins.

    The place only lasted a couple years according to my buddy.

    #14 2 years ago

    I think you'd have to have a backroom or something that the games would live in. I'd love to go somewhere and drink coffee and play pinball but as others have said, we are a small portion of the population. If you could find a way to function as a normal coffee shop, with a separate pinball room that wouldn't disrupt people who still want the coffee shop environment, you'd be set.

    #15 2 years ago

    Shoot me a PM if you have any specific questions njgecko

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    #16 2 years ago
    Quoted from NJGecko:

    From a business perspective, I'm still contemplating, but wondering if there is any income potential to this or if it would likely be a labor of love...

    There's a reason why bar arcades are a thing right now. They make money.

    #17 2 years ago

    I've been contemplating this exact idea for a few years now. I'm what they call a Home Barrista who knows how to pull all the delicious espresso drinks as well as drip coffee, so my product will be superior to the usual chain coffee shops. I've been in some lively coffee shops around the world and they can be very successful, even with some great tunes playing in the background, so why not a few or ten pins? My market would certainly not be the quiet internet surfers, but that's fine by me The only question is, does my target market even exist in my home town?

    #18 2 years ago

    We are doing breakfast, lunch, and pinball - and things are running quite nicely. The pinball is not a main attraction for most guests, but the ones who appreciate it, love it. We serve beer , mimosas and bloody marys also. Currently our pinball lineup is White Water, Diner, Funhouse, Whirlwind, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters Premium, Fish Tales and Twilight Zone. Any questions don't hesitate to PM.

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    #19 2 years ago

    Beer yes, coffee No.
    Location, location, location.
    Had a place ready to lease and drop over 80k.
    But in the end, the damn liquor license killed it. We had everything, but the city I'm in decided there were to many licences in the square mile of our location.
    Still trying, looking for a spot. In the end it's the beer that will pay the rent, not the quarters.

    #20 2 years ago
    Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

    In the end it's the beer that will pay the rent, not the quarters.

    That depends on the location. Our gov't taxes liquor so much that the profit margin is very slim. Liquor up here is a volume game.

    Keep your labour costs around 30%, your food costs around 30% and you can do okay.

    Pins in my shop are $1 a play for newer pins, 2 plays for $1 for older pins. We've had no complaints on cost to play (except one guy who says all games should be .25 cents. Dude, it's not 1987 anymore).

    #21 2 years ago

    Berg'n in Brooklyn is part Coffee bar, and Burly's coffee in Bed Stuy also in BK has pinball

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    #22 2 years ago

    We have one here in Vancouver. It's called the far out coffee post. Nothing but coffee, a few snacks, and pinball. I go often and have never been there by myself, meaning there has always been someone there and they are often busy. Lots of the players in the city love it and we often meet there in weekends for a coffee and some games. Go for it!

    #23 2 years ago

    There's a successful pinball coffee shop in Amsterdam called Spirit. It rules.

    I don't think the coffee is what's paying the bills though.

    #24 2 years ago

    I hate coffee. I love pinball. add smoothies though and I'd stop by!

    #25 2 years ago

    With any business idea it comes down to location, location, location
    Sure, a cup of coffee only costs 40c to make and you sell for $3, but it is the rest of your overheads that you need to factor in
    You may find it costs $2000 per week just to open the doors

    As others have said, coffee drinkers are pretentious, most would not like the sounds of arcades and pinball

    #26 2 years ago

    Put the pins in a back room that has swinging double doors and is technically still open to the front half of the place. Make sure the doors are nice glass-insert style wood doors in keeping with the theme of the coffeehouse vibe. It'll block the noise, but not the lights and palpable excitement going on in there. The separate room can't be set too out of the way, either. It needs to feel like "the something else that's going on there", the other half of what the place is about in order to draw folks in there.

    Most importantly, you need to establish some sort of "regularity of visitation" for the pins. Whether that means some sort of weekly or monthly high score competition where the patrons who participate tweet or Instagram their high scores with the name of your store hashtagged in their post to be eligible to win some kind of store-branded prize(personalized store mug, free coffee for a week, etc.), or simply hosting a pinball league night or even starting a new league that meets just at your place for regular meetings/competitions, there are many ways of injecting some form of "previously unknown need to be at your place often", and most are quite simple.

    If it's not obvious, I've thought about this a lot for myself. I can really see myself doing something similar. I just don't have the upfront cash to open an entire storefront. I've since thought about partnering up with a great local coffee shop that isn't too pretentious and actually doesn't get that many hipsters in it. It actually gets a lot of families in it for a coffee shop. I'm just waiting for the business next to them to move out and suggest a new "expansion", as it were.

    #27 2 years ago
    Quoted from Skins:

    One just open a little while ago in Maryland.
    http://www.coffeecade.net

    I know they are selling ground coffee online but I am pretty sure that they havent opened up the store yet.

    -1
    #28 2 years ago
    Quoted from thePLAyNone:

    We are doing breakfast, lunch, and pinball - and things are running quite nicely. The pinball is not a main attraction for most guests, but the ones who appreciate it, love it. We serve beer , mimosas and bloody marys also. Currently our pinball lineup is White Water, Diner, Funhouse, Whirlwind, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters Premium, Fish Tales and Twilight Zone. Any questions don't hesitate to PM.

    F--k me.

    Eggs benedict and pinball? GET ME THE HELL OUT OF THIS CITY/STATE....oh wait, you're in Florida. One two states I rank lower than wanting to stay here. Sad. I hate bugs... two visits to florida was enough of that!

    #29 2 years ago

    Well, maybe if you Irish-up the coffee it could work.

    #30 2 years ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    There's a successful pinball coffee shop in Amsterdam called Spirit. It rules.
    I don't think the coffee is what's paying the bills though.

    Right, I think that they sell some items "other than coffee" in the coffee shops.

    #31 2 years ago

    OP, have you been to the Game Vault in Morristown? Not a coffee cafe but a classic arcade in a good location. Hourly fee, games on free play. Private parties. If they can make ago of it, maybe something like that could work for you. Forget the coffee and the beer! Find a reasonable rent location and set up some leagues and do parties. I would be up for a league night. Not enough locations with games in north Jersey. We need you dude!

    #32 2 years ago

    Also be careful because many towns have ordinances that don't allow pinball.

    #33 2 years ago

    Espresso bar in Oakland that always has 5 or so pins.
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/scarlet-city-espresso-bar-emeryville

    #34 2 years ago
    Quoted from thePLAyNone:

    We are doing breakfast, lunch, and pinball - and things are running quite nicely. The pinball is not a main attraction for most guests, but the ones who appreciate it, love it. We serve beer , mimosas and bloody marys also. Currently our pinball lineup is White Water, Diner, Funhouse, Whirlwind, The Hobbit, Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters Premium, Fish Tales and Twilight Zone. Any questions don't hesitate to PM.

    My parents live in Palm Coast. I'll stop by the next time I'm there!

    #35 2 years ago

    Wow. I step away for a few hours and see all of this...I'm honestly surprised at how many people have pondered this...

    I am definitely thinking of the pins in a separate area. But I do like the idea of smoothies or something beyond just coffee. I'm not a big foodie, but the idea sounds really great.

    In NJ, at least my neck of the woods, liquor licenses are few and far between. Generally the towns here only have a certain number of licenses allocated, so you can't apply for one unless there is one being freed up.

    I'm not even sure how to see how to plan out costs. I feel like there should be a small business planner that I can hire to do some planning.

    #36 2 years ago

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    #37 2 years ago

    I'd dig it, cup holders on each side of each game and sell energy drinks!

    #38 2 years ago

    I would say you really wouldn't attract the "pretentious coffee-bar customer" If you open a location with Coffee/Smoothies/pinball, your repeat customers will, at least, be tolerant of the pinball.

    I think it could be viable. Truly, the only way to know would be to give it a fair try.

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    #39 2 years ago

    That was a great scene

    #40 2 years ago

    Hey theres a laundry mat that has a back room packed with pins. If he can do it. Im sure you can. I think all the advice given is all important. Location, keep costs down. But ultimatley its the coffee that has to pay the bills. Are your willing to bet on that? You know your area.. none of us do.

    #41 2 years ago

    Kickback cafe in Lawrenceville right outside the city of Pittsburgh serves coffee and light food. If you want beer it's byob. This is a weekly stop for the Pittsburgh pinball league. It gets very crowded in there at times. Can't say if it's doing well unless I saw the books.

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