ABARI game bar plans to open in March with 31 arcade games

In 2004, Barcade was started by a few friends in New York. It combined the fun of traditional arcade games with craft beer. As a teenage pinball enthusiast, Zach Pulliam hoped that this idea might one day come to Charlotte.

Pulliam graduated from UNC Charlotte and started working for an IT company. When it became apparent that a Barcade was not going to open in Charlotte, Pulliam said to himself, “I will regret it if I don’t do it.”

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At the age of 28, Pulliam secured a small business loan and ABARI was born in a building in Optimist Park, ideally situated near NoDa, Villa Heights, Plaza Midwood, Belmont and uptown.

After a lot of work getting the place ready, Pulliam is planning for a grand opening at the end of March.

Pulliam plans on hosting pinball tournaments (there is a huge following in Charlotte according to Pulliam) and arcade racing, fighting and sporting contests.

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When I walked into ABARI, I had no idea what to expect, but it had more games than I imagined. All of the arcade games cost 25 cents to play and the pinball games are 50 cents.

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24 arcade games:
  • Area 51/Maximum Force
  • Blitz 99
  • Dig Dug
  • Donkey Kong
  • Galaga
  • Joust
  • Lethal Enforcers
  • Mortal Kombat II
  • Marvel vs Capcom
  • Ms. Pac-man
  • NEO-GEO 4 slot
  • NBA Fast Break
  • NBA Jam
  • Off Road (3-player)
  • Out Run
  • Pole Position
  • Popeye
  • Robocop
  • Simpsons
  • Space Invaders
  • Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting
  • Sunset Riders
  • Turtles in Time
  • X-Men (6-player)
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7 Pinball machines:
  • Addam’s Family
  • Demolition Man
  • Hurricane
  • Royal Rumble
  • Taxi Pin
  • Tron
  • X-men

It has a laid back atmosphere, which seems to fit Pulliam’s style. He plans to have an old living room setup in one corner of the bar with comfy couches, Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

I wanted to know where Pulliam found all these games. I should have guessed: eBay and Craigslist were a couple of his sources. Many of the games came from auctions and Carolina arcade and pinball collectors. Which game traveled the farthest? Turtles in Time came from California.

Which game was the hardest to come by? His favorite game, Off Road, was free, but he had to drag it up 30 stairs from someone’s basement in Atlanta.

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Oh yeah, then there’s a whole bar too. The fully stocked bar will feature eight rotating craft beers. The ninth beer on tap will always be PBR for $1.50. A 24oz tall boy, and a red and a white wine option will also be available.

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Membership ABARI will operate as a private club. Members pay … wait for it … $1 for a lifetime membership.


Hours: Monday–Friday: 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday: noon-2 a.m.

Address: 1721 North Davidson Street

Under 21? Visit ABARI with a member and play video games on Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m.

ABARI’s Grand Opening is planned for the end of March.

Photos: Vanessa Infanzon; Zach Pulliam