It’s the kind of thing that one might dream of doing. Opening up an arcade with food and drinks, and being surrounded by your favorite video games in the heart of a major downtown.
Well, Wael Gharbie and Mohamed Badaoui are doing just that with “Ready Player One,” opening in a former tobacco factory in downtown Detroit (if you didn’t know, it used to be a big industry here).
We talked to Gharbie about their venture that mixes video games, booze and fun that is aiming to open in late May or early April of this year. The below was lightly edited for clarity. Some of the pieces are still going into place, but they’re getting there.
Daily Detroit: So how did this idea for a bar arcade come together?
Wael Gharbie: Mo and I are huge gamers and have been friends since high school. After high school I went and became a firefighter and he went to Iowa and opened up a few pizzerias. When he moved back Michigan a few years ago we linked back up and discussed opening something here together. He had a successful business running and my father owned a small business his entire life. We shot around a few ideas and both of us over the years had visited bar/arcades and thought it was a no brainer. Video games are a passion ours and it just fit us so well. Also, Detroit still did not have a fulltime bar/arcade which lead us even further to jump on the idea. Every major city around the country has at least one and why not Detroit and why not us?
Daily Detroit: So what is the plan when it comes to games?
Gharbie: We are a bar/arcade/restaurant. We have approximately 40 units (arcades and pinball machines). The games will run on tokens – however, if you are in the bar and eating or drinking you will be playing for free. No cover.
Daily Detroit: So let’s talk about the food?
Gharbie: The menu has not been finalized but it is a chef-inspired menu focusing on fresh and local choice products. We will have blue collar craft cocktails and Michigan beers on tap.
Ready Player One will be located in the lower level of 407 East Fort Street in Detroit, right next to Greektown.