Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Rubik's Cubes all will reclaim pop culture royalty at Flashback Retro Pub, an entertainment venue and bar set to open as part of the new Rise shopping center in Uptown.
Dirt work and demolition are getting started at The Rise, NW 23 and Walker, but Jose Rodriguez and Mark Temple are busy buying up vintage arcade games and planning what they envision as a celebration of the 1980s.
The men became friends when Rodriguez was assigned as Temple's ticket representative when Oklahoma City was home to the NBA Hornets. A visit to The Max in Tulsa, an '80s-themed bar, inspired the pair to create a similar concept in downtown Oklahoma City.
“The Max is the '80s and the '90s, and it's awesome,” Rodriguez said. “I really wished we could do something here, and my first thought was if I could do this, where would it be?”
That was two years ago, and at the time, Rodriguez looked at the NW 23 Uptown area and dismissed it as not being ready for such a venue. He then negotiated with a couple of property owners along Automobile Alley, failed to find a good fit, and looked for space in the 16th Street Plaza District, only to find he was too late — all the good spaces had been taken.
Rodriguez visited with Scott Smith, owner of the Arcade Building at 629 W Main. Smith liked the idea, but cautioned Rodriguez he could face alcohol zoning difficulties with an elementary being built one block north along Sheridan Avenue. Smith then referred Rodriguez back to Uptown and to Rise developer Jonathan Russell.
Russell had already signed a deal with Ian McDermid to renovate the old Texaco station on the property and turn into a concept bar named “Pump.”
“I love the concept and I liked the proprietors,” Russell said. “Concept bars like this will do well here, and they will be successful — they are what I'm looking for in terms of tenants that will be around long term.”