Can two PC gaming cafes function 400 feet away from each other?
The city of Carrollton has hit the gaming market and recently approved the construction of AK PC Gaming Cafe, the city’s second gaming cafe. It will be open 24 hours per day and is set to open in late August. But it's caused a small controversy.
AK PC Gaming Cafe will be less than 400 feet away from Java Gaming Cafe, which opened in 2016.
AK PC Gaming Cafe will have 4,220 square feet of space, enough for an estimated 100 PC game systems and a small convenience store. The cafe will be at 2625 Old Denton Road, Suite 464, which used to house a Department of Public Safety office.
No alcohol will be served, and gambling will be prohibited. Kenneth Chung, owner of the new cafe, says guests will need to register and verify their age in order to keep track of minors playing age-restricted games. The system will also automatically lock at 10 p.m. for minors younger than 18. He also plans to have an app with which gamers can reserve seats. Gamers will only have 30 minutes to claim their seats.
“We already hired the programmer, so they're working on it and are building a special program that will manage the networks and traffic,” Chung says.
Java Gaming Cafe, 2701 Old Denton Road, Suite 132, is a 7,500-square-foot gamer's paradise with 61 high-end PCs. Owner Jeff Choi says he's OK with the idea of another gaming café in the city but not the Carrollton City Council's decision on the location.
Choi did not speak about his concerns during the April 17 City Council meeting. Instead, he wrote two letters to Carrollton’s mayor, Kevin Falconer, before the meeting.
“Would you have two Ford dealerships right next to each other?” Choi wrote to Falconer. “They would be selling the same cars and the only way they would attract customers would be a price war.”
Falconer discussed the concerns with the Observer via email.
“Although I am certainly sympathetic to his concerns about competition ... it is not appropriate for us to deny a request strictly for competitive reasons,” he says.
Choi says he would have preferred the new cafe be at least a mile away from his and that he expects the two businesses will fight for dominance, eventually leading one to go out of business.
But Falconer says that's not up to the City Council.
“We don't regulate the proximity of competing interests.” he says. “Zoning is intended to regulate the types of businesses and how they operate in a zoning district or specific location. As an example, if an office is acceptable in a certain area, another office is typically acceptable in that area as well. Or if Burger King wants to go in adjacent to McDonald's, it's not in the city's jurisdiction to determine if that is appropriate.”
Chung says isn’t going to be a problem with two gaming cafes in the same area and that he received a leasing offer he couldn’t resist.
“I already talked to him [Choi],” Chung says. “I’m sorry to open up there, but that store is like a really good location for a regular or esport customer. I think it will work.”
He says the cafes will benefit from each other and that he wants to build a stronger relationship with Choi.
“We can make teams, and then we can do tournaments,” Chung says. “Have competitive stores and promo each other.”
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Despite the controversy, both owners want to give new or casual gamers the opportunity to experience playing on PCs. Building a powerful PC can cost an estimated $1,000 to $2,000.
“For people who can’t afford PCs, they can come here for a reasonable price and use our great equipment,” Choi says.
Both also agree that gaming is a social activity and want to bring in gamers who play at home.
“It’s better to be able to dab your friend when something good happens than just to be by yourself in your room,” Choi says. “That’s why we opened — it’s for the community.”