Walk up the stairs to the second-story-bar Play, located directly between Hopjacks and Will Call on Palafox, and you will undoubtedly notice the bright yellow walls paying homage to old-school video games with depictions of Pac-Man and Tetris.
Inside, the bar is scattered with vintage arcade games, including different variations of pinball, Skee-Ball and a plethora of oddly named machines like “Centipede Millipede” and “Call of the Wild.” Several pool tables, a long wooden bar and an Internet jukebox add to the coziness of the space.
In short, Play is a “barcade,” offering the fun of childhood games with the bar aspect of adulthood, minus the smoking.
“We always wanted to own a cool neighborhood bar with a Cheers kind of feel,” co- owner Edwin Banacia said. Banacia owns Play along with Albert Lao.
“We’re both kind of nerds, and we thought it’d be really cool to just put a bunch of games in the bar,” Banacia said.
Although the smoke-free bar already has a collection of games, as well as a popcorn machine, Banacia is on the lookout for more.
“We have a couple Skee-Ball games, but I want to get in some more and just have a whole Skee-Ball alley,” Banacia said. “We also want to get some more interactive sports games.”
Having a Skee-Ball alley seems fitting, since Play is planning to start its own Skee-Ball league. The first meeting will be next Monday at 8 p.m. A foosball league and a pool league are also in the works.
“For the Skee-Ball, we’ll have teams of four, and you can sign up on our Facebook page, our website, or at Play on the night that the league meets,” Banacia said. “And we’re going to have lots of prizes.”
The prizes will range from bar tabs to iPads, the iPad being the ultimate prize for the overall winner throughout the course of the league.
“We just want it to be fun, so we’ve got quirky stuff,” Banacia said. “We even got some of Ludacris’ signature alcohol autographed by him that we’re giving away as a prize.”
Play is all about fun, and they’ve tried to keep that in mind when considering their specials and their prices, because things are always more fun when they’re affordable.
Every day from 4-7 p.m. is happy hour, which means 2-for-1 mixed drinks or 2-for-1 beer. Anytime there is a football game playing on Saturday or Sunday, whether it’s college or professional, Play has $1 draft beer. Twenty-five Skee-Ball tickets will get you a free drink. Pretty much any time or day or the week, Play is offering some kind of deal.
“We think the pricing is really important, especially since we are going for the community feel,” Banacia said. “We have to try and make it affordable for everyone.”
Drop in to Play and reminisce about the good ol’ days when you were the king of Pac-Man or when a mixed drink didn’t cost as much as your dinner. Play has only been open a week, and will no doubt win over those in need of new place to go, or a new league to join.
16 Palafox Place (Upstairs)
iplaypensacola.com or facebook.com/playpensacola
Hours: 4 p.m.-until, Monday through Friday;
11 a.m.-until, Saturday and Sunday