Arcade bar mixes nostalgic games with 80’s-inspired cocktails

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The 80’s are making a comeback and they can be seen everywhere from skinny jeans to song artists like pop singers Bruno Mars who infuses his music with the retro sounds of the 80’s.

Even soda companies are revamping their cans with throwback designs and big screens everywhere flooded with 80’s remakes like The Exorcist, Evil Dead, RoboCop, Karate Kid, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name a few.

While many marketers and businesses are just now jumping on the 80’s trend, El Paso businessman and high school teacher Alex Macias has been stuck in that past decade for years.

“Since I was young I always wanted to open up my own arcade. It was such a huge part of my childhood,” said Macias, 43, who has been collecting and repairing arcade games for over ten years.

The idea of opening up an arcade but adding more value to the venue began brewing in his mind in 2004. In January, with the help of his wife, Mariana Macias, and his best friend, Mark Sheridan, his dream came to life as Rubik’s, a combination of bar and arcade at 4025 N. Mesa.

The name, he said, comes from the popular 80’s puzzle toy – the Rubik’s Cube.

“It was the number one trending toy in the 80’s,” Macias explains, “everyone had one and it symbolizes fun and being young. That’s why we chose this name for our barcade.”

With over 50 arcade games and pinball machines lining its wall, the “barcade” is a blast from the past. The oldest game on the floor is a 1997 Asteroids game. The most-valuable is the Wizard of Oz pinball machine.

Customers are taken back in time with Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, Terminator, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat and Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. There are even newer games based on current televisions shows such as South Park, Family Guy and Walking Dead. You can play them all for a quarter or three.

Rubrik’s is obviously not a regular bar. The names of mixed drinks all reflect 1980’s pop culture. Concoctions on the menu include Purple Rain, a Pretty in Pink kazi, a Margarita BeatBox or a Ghostbuster shot. They even have Squishees, a frozen drink from The Simpsons television show that the characters buy at their local Kwik-E-Mart.

Rubik's BarAccording to the Simpsons WIKI, the cartoon’s Squishee is an unhealthy drink that contains no natural ingredients, not even pure water. It’s a “thick, gloopy, tooth-rotting mixture of crushed ice and syrup.”

Rubik’s Squishees contains a lime margarita base. Some of the more popular ones, like the Talk Nerdy to Me, are made with Svedka raspberry vodka topped with a spoonful of Nerds candy. A second crowd pleaser is the Speedy Gonzales made with Svedka mango pineapple vodka, rimmed with chamoy powder and topped with a Mexican chili and mango lollipop.

Rosse Perez, 23, a 2014 UTEP graduate, who works as a translator no longer resides in El Paso but when she comes to town she includes Rubik’s on her agenda.

“I try to go every time I come home about twice a month,” Perez said. “I really like the bar because it appeals to everyone, even a nerd like myself. The arcade and pinball machines are cheap and best of all the watermelon chamoy drink is delicious.”

Rubik’s even takes into consideration that most of its patrons have children of their own. Every week the barcade opens its doors from noon to 6 pm on Sunday to let children have access to the games and spend time with their parents.

Some of the bar’s nostalgic 80’s decorations include a non-working, custom-built Giant television screen and a Barbie display box for photo oops.

With so many oldies but goodies to select from, some customers like to beat the previous top scores. Then, head over to relax on the outdoor patio to breath some fresh air and get a drink. The patio is decorated with a full wall-sized mural of a scene from the original Mario Bros. But that’s just icing on the cake. There are large adult-sized horizontal tire swings to sit or play in, a large hopscotch design painted on the floor as well as a super sized adult version of the Connect Four game.

Joshua Flores 36, a local DJ, discovered Rubik’s two weeks after it opened. “I had such a great time I made it a regular hangout and go at least once a week. I love the old-school games with the old-school prices. My visit usually starts with a Pop Rocks Squishee then a Franziskaner Hefe-weisse along with a couple of games of Blitz or Mortal Kombat.”

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