Downtown Ogden’s new Lit Arcade Bar brings retro atmosphere to beer scene
OGDEN — Indoor entertainment downtown has diversified with the addition of the city’s first arcade bar, offering vintage attractions.
The L.A.B., short for Lit Arcade Bar, has had over 1,000 arcadegoers pass through its doors since opening on Nov. 19, according to owners Nate and Kristin Smith.
While the Smiths are particularly fond of pinball and the 45 prized machines they have collected over the last seven years, there is plenty of other fun to be had.
Additions to the iconic ball-propelling arcade game include Pac-Man, Skee-Ball, Donkey Kong, plus Nintendo and Sega Genesis free play while eating or drinking on a couch in the space’s “living room,” which also contains board games.
Nate Smith said as much as he loves pinball and wants to share it with others in his community, the games themselves would not cover rent for the space without offering alcoholic beverages and food to supplement revenue.
Located at 2432 Washington Blvd. next to the Rushmer Building, where a Spanish-speaking Alcoholics Anonymous group meets nightly, Smith said he feels bad. But to acquire his conditional use permit from the city for his drinking establishment, Smith said his location options were minimal, with a slew of restrictions regarding such venues within the Central Business District Zone.
One such restriction is a ban on arcades within 600 feet of any public elementary or secondary school, according to Ogden City Planning Commission documents.
Smith said he is particularly frustrated by the rules and laws restricting youth admission into drinking establishments in Utah.
The demand for arcades is not limited to adults of drinking age, according to Smith, who said he would like kids to have the opportunity to participate in competitive tournaments.
“Rules need to change and get modernized,” he said, referencing other states that allow for underage people to enter such locations with a wristband indicating they are not able to consume alcoholic beverages.
Smith’s 12-year-old son Logan, a former North American youth pinball champion at age 10, ranks in the top 500 players in the world at the game. With much of the Smith pinball collection being placed in the bar, Smith said Logan only has access to a few “B-listers” at home.
Obtaining a liquor license was always a part of Smith’s business model, which he said was a timely, costly, paperwork-exhaustive endeavor.
“It was four months just to get in line,” he said.
Afraid they were going to have to wait for the new year to receive a liquor license, Kristy Smith said they made a list of which machines they would sell first should they need the money before opening.
Having gone well over their budget of $200,000 to get up and running, they did sell one of their machines. Kristy said it was heartbreaking.