There's no door yet at the 2,300-square-foot location abutting Sweetwaters at 191 College Street. But late this spring, passersby will be able to step into the Archives, a bar and arcade.
"At the very core of all of this, our focus is on making it a good bar," co-owner Nathan Beaman explains of the project. "If you take the games away, we'll still be a place people want to go."
Beaman, a local filmmaker, says that he and college pals Adam Lukens and Matthew Walters have been pushing the idea of opening an arcade bar in Burlington for a decade. For three years, the crew, which now also includes video-game expert Matthew Strauss, has been seeking a Burlington or Winooski space. A section of the building formerly occupied by the Burlington Free Press turned out to be a perfect fit.
Beaman and Lukens co-own a local motion-picture equipment-rental company, Queen City Lighting and Grip, and its counterpart in Brooklyn. The New York connection keeps them tied to the big-city cocktail world. "We want to be a destination for people who want to tantalize their taste buds rather than going out to get smashed," Beaman says. He envisions a rotating menu of upscale tipples. A Brooklyn-based sommelier and mixologist is consulting on the Archives' drink list, and a big-name local bartender is currently in talks to pour those drinks, Beaman says.
The Archives team is already working with local brewers on potential custom brews, but Beaman is adamant that not all his suds will be fruits of the Green Mountains. "Since Vermont brewers are doing so amazing, we've kind of patted ourselves on the back so much that people have blinders on a little bit to what's happening in the rest of the craft-beer world," he says.
At its core, the Archives will be a bar, with food generally limited to a grilled-cheese menu pairing local breads and cheeses. And what of the games? The 25-plus options will hail from the late 1970s to the 1990s, with an emphasis on stand-up cabinets rather than pinball. Beaman is reluctant to share too much, but lets slip that guests can expect to find the beloved 1992 Konami X-Men.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Digging Deep"