Story and Photos by Anthony Mauro
RED BANK – YesterCades, Red Bank’s first and only retro arcade, held their Grand Opening this past Saturday and was a huge hit.
“It was insane. We were at capacity. From the moment we opened to the moment we closed it was just nonstop crowded,” said Yestercades’ founder Ken Kalada.
The arcade includes classic arcade games and pinball machines, as well as classic and modern gaming consoles to satisfy every type of gamer. While many of the arcade games people grew up on have come and gone through the years, Yestercades brings a blast from the past to offer customers a unique and entertaining experience.
“It’s great because you get younger kids and adults. It’s not like when a parent brings a kid to Chuck E. Cheese. The parents get into the stuff just as much as the kids because you don’t have this anymore,” said Kalada. “It’s something different, especially in Red Bank. I firmly believe we need something else in the downtown area other than restaurants or another bar. While we do need restaurants, I try not to compete with any of the existing merchants. I actually allow food to be brought in.”
Yestercades offers over 60 arcade games and 12 pinball machines from what some would refer to as “The Golden Age of Video Gaming.” They also offer a break from classic gaming for those who want relax on one of their couches and play XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, or Nintendo Wii on one of three 55” high-definition televisions. These new age consoles also sit right next to more classic consoles like Atari 2600, Original and Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis. There is even a pool table in the back for customers to test their billiards skills against current friends, and also provides a great opportunity to make new acquaintances.
“It’s a different environment so it’s fun. People come here to have a good time. People are here and they automatically have a smile on their face,” said Kalata.
To complete bringing the gaming experience home with you, customers will be able to trade in old video games and consoles. That means that your copy of NHL ’94 for Sega Genesis that’s been collecting dust in your garage can be traded in for cash, credit, or free-play time on the YesterCades arcade floor.
As for how the idea of a retro arcade came about; it was not necessarily something Kalata had been planning on for his entire life, nor was it an overnight process.
“It took, steadily, a good two years [to amass the arcade collection]. A lot of them [games] you need to fly out the door to get. Like Pac-Man, if that came up for sale, I’m literally on my way to pick it up now because otherwise you won’t get it,” said Kalata. “It started off with Galaxia and before I knew it I had Afterburner, Bad Dudes, and Lethal Enforcers and I was like, ‘Oh crap, I think I just made a life changing decision.’ It’s been a long road… but it’s very surreal.”
Yestercades is a great place for adults to play some of their favorite games from childhood for the first time in decades. It’s also a great way for youth to discover classic games and play them for the first time. Patrons pay by the hour and are given access to the entire venue, where every game is set to Free Play. Hourly memberships start for as little as $8.75; so gone are the days of watching the “Continue?” clock down to zero while you empty your pockets to find just one more quarter, only to be disappointed by a handful of pennies and pocket lint.