Scottsdale Barcade The King Opens This Friday

The owners of The King sound like they're a lively bunch. When asked to describe the new neighborhood haunt in Scottsdale, which opens its doors this Friday, the trio of Tucker Woodbury, Charlie Levy, and Tyler Christensen engage in a breezy chatter and crack jokes while talking up the place's laidback atmosphere filled with games, good times, and complete lack of pretension.

It's somewhat akin to a group of friends hanging out and gabbing away over a few rounds of darts, foosball, or even skeeball -- or maybe just a few rounds, period - which, to hear its owners talk, sounds like the vibe they're aiming for at The King.

To wit: Levy, who also co-owns the Crescent Ballroom and runs concert promoter Stateside Presents, mentions how The King is a kind of place where you "leave your attitude at the door and have fun."

"It's about coming down, having some good cheap booze, some good cheap food, playing some fun games, and having a good time," he says.

That includes playing Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, or any of the other video games inside The King that will give it a barcade feel, says Woodbury, as well as a couple of pinball machines. There will also be a few lo-fi thrills (read: skeeball and foosball) that are similar to the sort of games you'd find at his other bar, The Little Woody in Arcadia.

"We've got some games like shuffleboard and darts, but we're really gonna try to celebrate the nostalgia in the old arcade aspect with the electronic games," he says.

Needless to say, The King's owners hope to amp up the fun factor at the spot starting with Friday's soft opening of the place, which makes it sort of different creature than the glitzier drinkeries and bottle service-oriented clubs of Scottsdale's entertainment district.

Christensen, who's also a partner in The Little Woody, says that one the things that sets The King apart from other nearby night spots will be its attitude, or (more to the point) its complete lack of any.

"It's a bar where fun is kind of the key," he says.

The good-natured goofiness of The King is also present in a teaser video posted to YouTube recently, which plays up the nostalgia of arcade games, and might be included in the bar's official motto.

"I guess the tagline we're kicking around for The King is something like, 'It's all fun and games,'" Woodbury says. "That's kind of our attitude with everything we're doing with the bar, like with every single idea we've been kind of throwing at the walls and deciding to do there."

Like, say, the chance to get cheap drinks with the flip of a coin.

"We're thinking about having a game you can play where you can wager against the bartender and flip the quarter," Woodbury says. "Like if it comes up heads, the drink is only a quarter, but if it comes up tails, you pay full price."

It's something that The King's owners are kicking around and is an example of what Levy calls "turning every bad idea into a good idea."

Here's another: Having a drink special called "The King and I," that would involve a 16-ounce Budweiser (a.k.a. "The King of Beers") with a chaser of Crown Royal for five bucks.

It's not the only monarch-themed aspect present, as Levy and Woodbury tapped Arizona artist Joe Pagac (who's work adorns the Hotel Congress in Tucson) to fill The King with a slew of king-themed paintings.

"Joe did paintings of every kind of king imaginable," Levy says. "Nat King Cole, BB King, Don King, King Joffrey, King Tut, Michael get the idea."

Levy says you also might hear the "King of Pop" coming from the sound system along with other "guilty pleasure" artists and bands.

"We're putting everything on our playlist from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Journey to Hank Williams, Jr.," he says. "Anything goes."

For the time being, however, that's the only sort of tunes that the owners of The King plan to offer. Unlike The Western, the upscale honky-tonk that formerly occupied the property, there won't be much in the way of live music, at least for the time being. (There's a possibility that they might feature local Nintendo cover band Minibosses at some point in the future.)

That's why most of the video games now occupy what used to be The Western's stage.

"It isn't about playing instruments here anymore, it's about playing games," Levy says. "So we put all the games up on the stage where you're the performer."

The King's soft opening takes place on Friday, August 1.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.