My friends, in the previous two installments of the Diary of An Arcade Employee I have touched on the announcement by my friend, Shea Mathis, of the dream of the Arkadia Retrocade as well as the beginning of the construction for what would become the first arcade in Northwest Arkansas in over fifteen years.
The first two chapters may be found by following the links below:
Diary of an Arcade Employee Pt. 1 – The Announcement
Diary of an Arcade Employee Pt. 2 – The Work Begins
When I last left off, the hard work of bringing Shea’s vision to fruition had just barely begun. The contractors had been hired to transform the one tiny bathroom and storage room into Code approved bathrooms, with double stalls for the Women’s restroom and handicap accessibility.
Watching from the sidelines during these early days I saw Shea handle business matters that would resemble the fate of Sisyphus. Agreed upon construction costs were changed it seemed to me from week to week, starting dates slipped by and worst of all the promised completion times were not upheld.
Please bear in mind that Shea didn’t have access to an infinite amount of money, he had been smart however and did his homework and had budgeted the cost of everything down to the last nail used in the construction of the cocktail games deck. That is where the sage advice from the other arcade owners really helped, to lessen the burden somewhat of Shea having to find out the hard way on his own, though there was still a steep learning curve.
But for everything that changed in the construction plan something else had to be put on the back burner or sacrificed for the time being to reach that proposed opening date at the end of October. So what could we do in the meantime while we waited for the bathroom construction to begin?
We began to work on the pony walls at the entrance of the arcade as well as the party room. During the construction period Shea and I worked from seven in the morning until ten at night every single day, except for the weekends when I worked my 48 hour shifts at the Hotel, that is when Shea would typically be doing everything himself. Thankfully we also had the aid of our group of friends and associates that we knew in our other jobs that could be counted on to lend a much needed and appreciated hand with the massive amount of work.
At the same time as the party room construction had begun we had to work on repairing nearly all of the insulation as it wasn’t up to par for health reasons, Shea did that all by himself on a single weekend. Many of the ceiling tiles had to be replaced as well or worked on to allow speakers to be inserted and for new wiring to facilitate appropriate lighting as well as Code specific emergency signs.
The building of the deck was the next project and the one I ended up helping with the most. We started off with just placing the planks of wood atop the masking tape, so that we could get a picture in our mind’s eye of how it would look when finished.
Like many times as we were working we found that the best way to not lose our minds was to take a quick lunch, in our case there is a local bakery that sells doughnuts and strong coffee that in my opinion must be crafted by angels. Shea and I would talk through the problems facing the arcade and then bounce the solutions off of each other as we slowly would get hopped up on the sugar and caffeine. Which helped when you get back to the arcade and find that you had to put the deck on hold to begin putting up the dry wall for the party room and pony walls.
Before we actually started putting up the dry wall though, Shea revealed a neat little adornment design he had planned to the outside of the main party room wall…
Thanks to one of Shea’s brothers he was able to get his hand on these three pieces of actual arcade games and we installed them into the wall.
Now weeks into the construction we were fortunate that the bathrooms were well on their way to completion and the electricians as you can see in some of the photos had already laid most of the work for the new power outlets. Little surprises of course continued to pop up such as suddenly needing to budget in the purchase for a three compartment sink for Arkadia to have a snack bar. We were only going to be selling bagged chips and candy as well as canned or bottled cokes but the type of business that was being opened necessitated the need of the sink.
Still we were getting closer and closer to the prize.
But that will be discussed in the fourth chapter of the diary.