If you're a fan of The Little Woody's cozy game room and its various retro-style diversions, you'll likely dig The King after it opens next month in Scottsdale. Ditto for anyone that's down for some throwback arcade games or pinball mixed with dirt-cheap cocktails while clutched in the comfort of a neighborhood bar.
That's some of what The King will offer, says co-owner Tucker Woodbury, who describes it as a "fun and unpretentious haunt with many games and diversions."
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That means the same sort of thrills found at The Little Woody, which Woodbury also co-owns, will go into the Fifth Avenue spot formerly home to The Western. Skeeball, foosball, darts, and shuffleboard will be complemented by a handful of vintage arcade games and pinball.
"The thing that we wanted to go for is what's helped us a lot at Little Woody," Woodbury says. "Something beyond with diversions and fun other than just cocktails and food. The game thing has really worked and helped us over there, and we just want to take it to a new level at this place."
When the closure of The Western and the coming of The King was announced earlier this month, the new arrival was trumpeted as a "barcade," a popular concept trend in nightspots as of late that (as the term implies) merges and arcade with booze like at such spots as the Emporium in Chicago, EightyTwo in L.A., or Shorty's in Seattle.
However, Woodbury says The King will be less of a barcade and more of a rec room like at The Little Woody, only larger. While it's still being determined exactly which games will be featured, Woodbury promises both stand-up and sit-down cocktail arcade units along the lines of '80s favorites like Pac-Man, Galaga, or Donkey Kong.
There also might be some games that are even more retro, he says.
"It would be fun to have an old Pong game. That's how old I am," Woodbury says.
Bar standards like Big Buck Hunter or Golden Tee may also be a part of The King's game selection.
Tentatively scheduled to debut in mid-July, The King is currently making the transition from honky-tonk to Donkey Kong over the next few weeks. Woodbury says they'll keep the establishment's rustic and reclaimed wood look but will "de-Western" things (i.e., removing the longhorn skulls and other cowboyish art) in favor of more than 30 paintings by Arizona artist Joe Pagac that are inspired by various pop cultural "kings."
"We're having Joe do a bunch of every sort of king imaginable, whether it's B.B. King, Elvis, or LeBron James," he says.
While a portion of The Western's tables will be removed to "make it less of a dining experience," they'll be keeping the stage, which will showcase the pinball and arcade games. Shuffleboard will go along one wall and a drink rail that's currently being built will host checkers boards and other board games.
A couple of skeeball machines will also occupy one corner. Woodbury says they're also constructing an elevated platform next to 'em that will offer a good viewing spot for the skeeball tournaments (which have proven to be popular events at The Little Woody) that will be held.
As for what patrons of The King can drink or eat between rounds of gameplay, Woodbury promises low-priced sips and bites.
"We're talking cheap drinks, and I mean cheap drinks, and inexpensive food," he says. "Really stripped-down things like hot dogs and cheesy fries and the like. Just simple stuff. The kind of stuff you'd find in a neighborhood bar in Chicago or something."
Woodbury hopes that The King, in a sense, will recapture a bit of the vibe of the Sugar Shack, the old neighborhood bar that occupied the property for many years.
"This place has been a number of things over the years and I think it had its greatest success was going back to when it was the Sugar Shack. It was probably closest what we're thinking about kind of resurrecting it as -- just the antithesis of what you might expect from Scottsdale, at least Old Town Scottsdale and the entertainment district."
"I think once people walk into an environment like this, they're going to see the deal," Woodbury says. "They're going to feel nostalgia or they're going to be entertained. Or they're just gonna relax and drink some inexpensive cocktails and play fun games and have a good time."
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