Good news for pinball wizards: business partners/married couple Casey & Eli Linthicum are building a new 3,915-square-foot GameOn bar+arcade smack in the Merriweather District.
With a grand opening set for Jan. 19, queue up for some ghost-eating fun with the beloved Ms. Pac-man, join a Skee-Ball league, or snap a selfie in the Teenage Mutant Ninja sewer tunnel.
This marks the third GameOn location — others are in Annapolis and Baltimore — and the first time the business will occupy a new build.
After choosing Baltimore-based UrbanBuilt LLC for the construction, the entrepreneur couple is taking the opportunity to realize their dream-fun by including a mezzanine, indoor-outdoor bar, tiki bar, and a special area for private corporate events.
Before the grand opening in January, the new arcade will host a VIP night, friends-and-family night, and training for staff.
Three of the Linthicums’ many passions are woven into GameOn: pinball machines, customer service, and giving back to the community.
Eli, through connections he’s made over several years in the arcade business, finds old pinball machines, then retrofits them for the arcade. For the new Columbia location, he’s especially proud of the Simpsons, South Park, Toy Story 4, and Stranger Things themed pinball choices.
“It’s a big part of our business,” he said, adding that another area of GameOn will include televisions to watch sporting events, air hockey tables, and even a 50s diner-themed section with games like Space Invaders.
The bar menu will be all about fun — the adult Capri-Sun, for example — but with some traditional favorites like Mai Tais, pizza, and wings.
As they gear up to open the doors, the Linthicums are hiring kitchen staff to fill out their full team of about 30 employees, many of them part-time.
GameOn was nationally ranked during the past year in the Top 21 Best Arcades in the United States.
“We’re excited to open a place for a fun day or night out in our hometown,” said Casey, who also works two nights a week at the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. “We live in Columbia, so this is our way of bringing GameOn home.”