Since opening in Northbridge 18 months ago, Palace Arcade has amassed a loyal following for its irresistible mix of good booze and classic video games. Last Friday, owner Saran Bajaj opened a second in East Victoria Park, taking over the bar that used to be Daddy Long Legs.
While the concept remains the same, the new venue has been designed with a slightly different audience in mind.
“Northbridge is getting a more diverse crowd than we anticipated, with a lot of families bringing their kids along,” he says. “We felt that we needed to accommodate people who didn’t want to travel into the city but still wanted that experience.”
Each venue’s game selection has been carefully selected to speak to its core demographic. Northbridge focuses on iconic games from the 80s and early 90s for the old-school purists. Vic Park’s selection from the mid-90s is intended to appeal to the Gen X and Y locals. And their kids. The 50-odd machines include games such as Donkey Kong, Rampage and Time Crisis, which will rotate regularly.
“It’s about delineating the two markets from a gaming culture and a drinking culture,” says Bajaj. “Sometimes you want to put in a game that shows your collection is legit, but it may not be something that the average 18 to 25-year-old has an affinity with.”
In keeping with its intended demographic, the new venue is a brighter affair than the original. There’s family-friendly seating and large windows that open onto Albany Highway. It feels more cafe-like than dark drinking den.
Both bars use the same pre-loaded card system, and your credit is good in either location. Bajaj sees this as a way of building customer loyalty.
“It’s about building a genuine rapport with your consumer base rather than asking them to build your brand, which is the social-media age we live in,” he says. “We don’t spend a lot on advertising, the reason being that everyone is connected to us by that card.”
The new venue replicates the original’s New York-pizza offering, with chef Michael Windsall (ex-Alfred’s Pizzeria) cooking in-house. Sixteen-inch and 22-inch pies such as Downtown Meatball, Palace Pepperoni and Five Boroughs Five Cheese are available whole or by the slice. Sides include mac’n’cheese bites, jalapeno poppers and chicken wings.
Vic Park’s drinks menu continues the pattern of bespoke cocktails, craft beers and top-shelf liquor. While the combination of vintage electronics, pizza and alcohol might seem dangerous, Bajaj says that customers have learnt to respect the experience.
“As a collector, it hurts me when someone rests a drink on a machine, but I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to put your drink down on one side of the venue and not being able to hold it while you’re playing a game,” he says. “It’s just a case of people understanding that these things are valuable. We’re enjoying them in a free-spirited environment and that’s how I want to keep it. I’ll wear that cost if I have to.”
774 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park
Wed to Thu 4pm–12am
Fri to Sat 12pm–12am