Andrea and Galen McDermed saw the vacant Arc Arcade and the void of options for teenagers when their parents are downtown.
The self-described children of the 1980s are planning to help fill the void in June with Gizmo’s Arcade & Eatery, a retro gaming center with gourmet hot dogs, beer and cider at Commercial and 11th streets.
The Arc Arcade closed in 2017. Bonsai Hollow opened over the summer on Marine Drive, offering a place for board gamers to stock up and hang out. But the nearest arcade, aside from a 21-and-over pinball room in Merry Time Bar & Grill, is in Seaside.
“We view it through the lens of a family,” Galen McDermed said. “We have four kids. When we’re traveling to Seaside, we know we’re going to have to commit to a certain amount of money for food, and then some entertainment. So we wanted to kind of bring that here.”
They wanted the arcade to pay homage to their childhood, with tape deck wallpaper and plans for He-Man memorabilia. Instead of card readers, Gizmo’s will use old-school tokens to operate machines and offer prizes out of small plastic capsules.
Andrea McDermed recently quit her job at Keepsake Tattoo to manage Gizmo’s. Galen McDermed, a mechanical engineer, plans to continue his day job while repairing machines.
The couple started hunting down arcade machines along the West Coast and off of Craigslist after deciding over the summer to move forward with the project. They have since gathered around 25 pinball and retro arcade cabinets, along with an air hockey table.
“We have a couple multicade machines, which are the old-school cabinets that hold like 60 different like retro-style games,” Andrea McDermed said. “But then we have classics like Simpsons, and NBA Jam and Gauntlet, Mortal Kombat.”
They’re installing an 85-inch television for Nintendo Switch console gaming rentals in a faux wood-paneled corner in the back of the shop, along with an area for people to gather and play board games. The couple also sees Gizmo’s hosting events, such as gaming tournaments and trivia nights.
“That’s definitely what we want to foster, is people coming together again,” Andrea McDermed said.
The Astoria City Council has already approved the couple for a liquor license to serve beer and cider. They are posting updates on social media and plan to open sometime in June, playing things by ear given the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hopefully, most of that is … kind of in the rearview mirror,” Galen McDermed said. “We were going to open regardless. I think it’s ripe for it. People are ready to get out. Somebody was going to do it if we didn’t do it.”