Two guys are sitting down with coffees and a burger between them. One gets up and asks, “Street Fighter?” Less than a minute later, a 16-bit synth track and the furious tap of plastic buttons drown out their voices. Welcome to 1989 Kitchen and Arcade.
“It's a retro arcade cafe. So, we have two shopfronts – next door which is more of an arcade and here which is a cafe,” says Ben Campbell, the owner along with his partner Marnie. Despite the fact Melbourne already has three similar venues, this is the first of its kind to land in Sydney.
Ben wants to honour what he calls “the golden age” of arcade gaming. You’ll see this in the kind of game titles and platforms available. Along with the rotating $1 per play, ’80s and early ’90s arcades (Street Fighter 2, rightly, will never rotate out), there’s a free N64 at the counter and a handful of board games. One wall is covered in retro movie posters, another in comic strips and the rest dotted with vintage posters and prints.
The cafe is far more modern. Lachlan Ross serves a quartet of burgers including an American-style cheeseburger with garlic aioli, and a more innovative sweet potato, haloumi and pineapple creation. There’s a healthier tahini-dressed brown rice or quinoa Buddha Bowl with cucumber, mushroom, sweet potato, crunchy chickpeas and kidney beans; and small selection of homemade cakes.
The ultimate aim is to turn the place into a bar. Once the liquor license comes through they’ll be swapping out Little Marionette brews and big breakfasts for tapped craft beers, imported tinnies and cocktails. “I'll be bringing in six more arcade machines as well. We’ll always have the cafe because my favourite thing is when families bring their kids in to play Street Fighter 2 with them.”
1989 Kitchen and Arcade
22-24 King Street, Newtown
(02) 9516 5581
Mon to Sat 7am–4pm