Downtown Renton’s 8-bit Arcade in will reopen on April 1 after a year of pandemic restrictions prevented the community from setting new high scores on their favorite arcade and pinball machines.
The co-owners of 8-bit Arcade — Terrance Vaccaro, Scott Fjelstad and Pete Olive — said they have spent the last year staying socially distant and trying to remain safe and healthy.
The trio also co-owns The Local 907 pub across the street, which was allowed to stay open because the venue primarily serves food.
8-bit Arcade was a tougher pitch to stay open as shared arcade buttons and joysticks seem a lot less safe amid a pandemic, so its doors have been closed for almost exactly a year.
Olive said the priority among the arcade’s management and staff will be safety. He said surfaces on the venue’s nearly 30 pinball machines and 60 classic arcade games will be regularly wiped down and sanitized, hand sanitizer will be plentiful, and masks will be required at all times inside the venue.
Olive said masks could be taken off only when customers are sitting in the outside area designated for drinking and eating. He estimated there would be enough seating space for around 25 people on their outside deck.
“So far, the [state’s] rules have worked great for us,” Olive said. “Maybe not for business, but for keeping people healthy.”
Vaccaro said opening the arcade after a year of closure will be a “psychological victory” for both the arcade’s owners and the community.
He said spending half an hour to an hour with friends playing games can be therapeutic.
“People love nostalgia,” Vaccaro said of the arcade’s classic collection of games, many of which will be familiar to people who grew up in the 1980s.
“Going out and playing games with friends and having a laugh — that’s what makes this place special,” Olive said.
Initially, the venue on 916 S. 3rd St. will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight, according to the owners. They said they are still trying to decide between being open five nights a week or a full seven nights a week.