Old School Fun at Bartronica

By Sarah Harrison

A new kind of bar emerged in Melbourne last month and is set to be a mean contender for the most fun.

Officially launched in March, Bartronica has emerged on Flinders Lane as Melbourne’s only retro arcade bar in the city – and the owners are taking it very seriously.

With classics like Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Mario Kart on Nintendo 64, Bartronica has more than 300 sqm of old-school entertainment for up to 200 people, built to appeal to the video and arcade games generations.

The basement location lends a museum-like atmosphere of games and their histories, including a timeline of console games (think Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo). Game enthusiasts will also find Roadblasters, Moon Cresta, 1942, Gun Fight, Ice Cold Beer and, their rarest, Fire Escape.

Inspiration for the bar came from the United States. Part owner, Joshua Egan, explained: “I saw what the venues in the United States had done and thought we could do it much better! More atmosphere, better drinks and much rarer games.”

The city location was a natural choice for Bartronica as, according to Joshua, “Melbourne’s CBD has a wonderful atmosphere with a really strong energy”.

“We also want to create an international tourist attraction in Melbourne by appealing to fans from the USA, Japan, and Europe,” he said.

Joining the already established Beta Bar on Russell St – known for its more modern games and as a “unique hub for geeks, gamers and members of the industry” – the addition of Bartronica makes for just two gaming bars in the city.

In contrast with Beta Bar, Bartronica looks to appeal to a wider, more mainstream and somewhat nostalgic audience. The challenge will be attracting an even crowd of gamers as well as the less tech-obsessed people of Melbourne – not to mention a good gender balance. But the owners seem confident.

“Bartronica has something for everyone,” Mr Egan assured. “Craft beer, cocktails, high quality spirits and very rare games – it’s actually a really great place for a date.”

Bartronica serves punters eight bespoke cocktails, a range of spirits, craft beers, Little Creatures on tap, plus bar snacks and nachos.

The quirkiness of the bar adds character and appeal while emitting excitable fun. With winter on the horizon, Bartronica will offer an escape from the gloomy weather and add a bit of retro “pew pew” to the shorter days ahead.

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