By Steve Adams
Less than a year after opening GameOn Bar + Arcade in a former firehouse in downtown Annapolis, owners Casey and Eli Linthicum are offering even more entertainment options in 2023. The business that combined arcade games and inventive drinks in a 102-year-old building at 114 West Street celebrates an expansion this month..
“Eli and I both worked in bars and nightclubs in L.A. and New York City, so our goal with Game On was to bring big-city entertainment to our smaller town,” says Casey Linthicum, who along with her husband, Eli, also opened a GameOn location in Baltimore. “We got off to a great start with arcade games, cocktails, and pizza downstairs, and now we’re hoping to continue becoming the ultimate adult venue for fun with everything we’re offering upstairs.”
The newly expanded space includes a VIP lounge overlooking the first floor, another lounge with a private bar, and uniquely-themed karaoke and video game rooms—all covered in creatively modern-yet-nostalgic graffiti drawn by Jimmy (@jimbo_th13_artxgod), a friend and coworker of the Linthicums.
The karaoke rooms range from a fast-food-themed room, featuring icons such as Ronald McDonald and the Burger King, to a room featuring the firehouse’s original fire pole. There are also multiple gaming rooms, including one with a wall covered by four widescreen TVs.
Creating areas for everything from laid-back relaxation to action-packed activities was always in the Linthicums’ long-term plans, but they wanted to wait to expand until they were confident that everything was running smoothly downstairs and they’d had a chance to see what business was like in their first year. They decided to go full steam ahead just nine months after opening, however, thanks to the great response they’ve received from the community.
“Business has been great,” says Casey. “We received a lot of publicity when we first opened, and we’ve received amazing feedback from the very beginning. We’ve become a popular spot for everything from after-work happy hours and $1 mimosa Sundays to bachelor and bachelorette parties, and our theme parties (like ‘90s nights) have been a hit. On the other hand, we also see a lot of families regularly come in on the weekends since we’re kid-friendly until 8 p.m.”
The Linthicums are especially proud of their Skee-Ball League, which started in the fall and is already sold out for the winter, and their commitment to always seeking and acting on customers’ feedback—for example, rearranging the first-floor layout in order to add more games and seating; making their own pizzas with a former executive chef who is now their operations manager; and creating more spaces for private get-togethers.
“We can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve created and let them start getting their karaoke on,” says Linthicum.
The public won’t have to wait long: the upstairs is now open and karaoke and video game rooms are available for private booking. For details: www.gameonbararcade.com and follow @gameonannapolis on Instagram.