LUDLOW, Vt. – There is a new game in town. A few dozen in fact. All lined up like old friends gleaming and twinkling in greeting at the new retro arcade combination bar and pub, Gamebird, in downtown Ludlow.
Sure, this place serves excellently crisp, family-style fried chicken with a unique combination of biscuits, pickles, and deviled eggs, and accompanied by a choice of interesting sides including cheesy grits, creamy mac and cheese, and smothered green beans. And yes, there are several specialty cocktails and Vermont specialty beers on tap and in bottles.
But step in the doors and you might pause and turn around to make sure you’re in the right decade. For along the walls of this place they stand waiting. Old arcade favorites from the ‘80s and ‘90s inviting you for a stroll into your past.
Oh, Centipede! There you are old friend, luring me back to shoot at your many-colored versions while trying to avoid being crushed by your kamikaze spiders. Ms. Pacman, you ravenous minx, we meet again. Oh Mario, shall we team up bravely face Donkey Kong in the pursuit of the fair Pauline?
Across from the spacious bar and near several tables, three Skee Ball bowling games bring you even further back in time recalling older arcades from the ‘40s. An updated photo booth and several more arcade games give you other options on the other side of the arcade and pub. Some newer games are also in the mix, including Guitar Hero and House of the Dead.
Brain child of Abby and Rogan Lechthaler, and inspired by one of Rogan’s old friends who owned several arcade bars in Colorado, the duo teamed up with chef Weston Nicoll and were excited to turn their former Mama’s Restaurant into something completely new.
This location, along with their other Ludlow restaurant, Downtown Grocery, had been on the market, but in weighing their options, Abby describes a light bulb moment for the couple when they decided not to sell but instead fill it with retro arcade games, giving the location a new personality and one that is completely unique to the Ludlow area.
According to Lechthaler, reactions have been super positive. “A lot of people have been really excited about games. And especially quarter operated at that…and to be able to get a drink and get something to eat is a bonus.”
The games are all operated by quarters, and for the most part, just one quarter, making your evening fun, affordable, as well as a step back in time. “It’s about you getting to relax and do something fun that’s also potentially nostalgic,” said Lechthaler.
In this age of Covid, there is plenty of sanitizer spread throughout and Lechtaler also hopes that people are taking care of themselves and thinking through what makes sense. Masks are also required as part of Ludlow’s town-wide mask rule.
Gamebird is located at 190 Main Street in Ludlow. Hours are Thursday through Monday, from 4 – 11 p.m. Sundays, noon – 8 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. There are two change machines on site and an ATM just a few doors down for everyone’s convenience. Minors must be accompanied by adults. For more details, visit www.gamebirdludlow.com.