Game and drink, never stop, it’s all the same at Coin-Op


People play “Dance Dance Competition” and “Hoop Fx” during Coin-Op’s hard opening on Thursday. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

The tinkling of quarters, a playlist designed for all generations, sound effects and theme music combined to create a cozy, exciting atmosphere at Chico’s first arcade bar, Coin-Op.

At 229 Broadway Street in Downtown Chico, Coin-Op’s hard opening was well underway starting at 4 p.m., two hours before the city’s first Thursday Night Market of the year.

Coin-Op Chico is the fifth bar in the small chain, three of the others being in San Diego County and one in Sacramento.

The arcade bar, like the small chain’s other locations, has a distinct style. One that was described by general manager, Grayson Lobosky, as being “Miami Vice” meets “The Simpsons.”

Lobosky worked at Coin-Op Sacramento before coming back to Chico, his hometown, to work at La Salles, which closed at the end of last year. He is the reason why Coin-Op came to Chico and now rests on La Salles’ grave.

Lobosky said that Coin-Op Chico is different from the other locations because it’s designed for families. The other four locations are strictly 21+, but Lobosky said he told his partners that Chico was a family-oriented place, so it made sense to make certain days open for everyone.

That’s specifically why Coin-Op is open to all ages on Thursdays, due to the Thursday Night Market, highly family-friendly gatherings.

This is also the only location that serves hamburgers; pizza is the spotlight at the other locations. Lobosky pointed out the large number of downtown pizza restaurants like Crush and Celestino’s to his partners, so hamburgers made more sense.

Coin-Op also has fries, share plates and desserts like fried oreos and ice cream sandwiches. Lobosky said that Coin-Op is not a place meant to sit down and eat, but to play, drink and have fun, “We will play positive music and try to have a positive vibe.”

Just as the name indicates, the bar holds a variety of coin-operated classic, shooter, multi-player and fighter games. Each game indicates how many credits, or quarters, are needed to play.

Quarters can be yielded from one of two bright-red change machines. One at the front of the business as you walk in, and another against a partial wall near the bar, right next to an ATM for those who need to withdraw cash. A small extra fee is required to withdraw cash from the ATM.

The shiny coins can be easily toted around using small, cyan paper cups next to the change machines. Thankfully, there are also cup holders next to every game, either for coin cups or for drinks.

Coin-Op’s bar populated by attendees of the business’s hard opening on Thursday. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

A fully stocked bar sits underneath five neon-green framed TVs. Lobosky said the TVs will play various sports games. The bar serves multiple types of beer, hard alcohol and Coin-Op’s specialty Power Punch, a drink served in a pouch. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.

A second bar is out on the outdoor patio, which also houses a small stage that Lobosky says will be used for live bands and DJs. The stage is also equipped to hold a projection screen that will be used for games such as “Mario Kart” tournaments.

Three games and a photo booth sit against the right side of Coin-Op’s back patio. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

There are also firepits, multiple tables, games and a photo booth.

The games can be enjoyed by all ages from 4-9 p.m. on Thursdays, and the weekends from noon to 9 p.m. Those 21 and over, however, will have the bar all to themselves during the following times:

  • Monday through Wednesday: 4 p.m. to midnight
  • Thursday: 9 p.m. to midnight
  • Friday: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

During the summer Lobosky said that every day will be open to all ages until 9 p.m. The last Sunday of every month will also have free gameplay.

Though a bar, people of all ages wandered the business. Children swarmed the skee ball machines and “Hoops Fx”, while older generations zeroed in on the “Metallica,” “Ghostbusters,” “Deadpool,” “Foo Fighters” and “White Water” pinball machines. A group consistently gathered around these machines waiting for a chance to play.

Reid Backman and Griffin Shiers, Coin-Op opening attendees, both said they thought it was great Chico finally has a full arcade. They were most excited to play “Dance Dance Revolution” and were intimidated by, but interested in playing “Down the Clown,” a game where players can throw softball-sized red balls at multi-colored clowns to achieve points.

A man in a green tie-dyed shirt plays “Area 51,” one of Coin-Op’s shooter games. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

For those interested in shooters there were games such as “Area 51” and “Target Terror,” and fighters such as “Mortal Kombat II” and “Street Fighter II.” 

There were other classics closer to the indoor bar on the right side of the business, such as “Ms. Pacman” and “Donkey Kong.” These games were sometimes hard to play because the sun rays coming in through the windows at the front of the business cast a harsh glare on the game screens.

Some games did break down and eat quarters from time to time, but employees were quick to reimburse players and try to get games up and running. The credit indicators on each machine were also hard to spot on some games, slightly slowing the playing time.

Coin-Op’s specially made kiddie ride, “Willie the Wildcat” sits ready to be presented at the bar’s hard opening. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

Coin-Op also has a specially made kiddie ride called “Willie the Wildcat,” a crouching red, gray and black wildcat that when fed quarters plays the Chico State fight song.

All of Coin-Op’s available merchandise sits on display to entice possible buyers close to the bar’s door. Taken by Ariana Powell on April 27.

Coin-Op also sells merchandise such as logo T-shirts, beanies and stickers.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].