If you're a child of the 1980s or '90s and haven't made a voyage to the Free Play Arcade in Richardson, you are passing up a chance to experience time travel.
The game room that's tucked away in a strip mall on East Belt Line Road takes you back to the days when you had to put on pants and leave your home to play the most technologically advanced and challenging video games. Flashy '80s lettering decorates the walls and hits from that era are pumped in over the stereo system.
If your reason for not making the trip is that Richardson is inconvenient, we have good news. Free Play Arcade president and CEO Corey Hyden says the company is expanding; in December he plans to open a second location on East South Street in Arlington, which means that more people will be able to top the scoreboards on "Smash TV" and "Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road" very soon.
"We decided probably about six months ago that we were ready to start looking for a second location," Hyden says. "We started working with our broker and went through books of available properties. Then out of nowhere, this property popped up. It's the only one we even visited and we knew exactly when we saw it that that was the place to go."
The new location will take the place of the South Street Patio, a
"We're hoping with this new Arlington location that with more space, we should be able to handle bigger crowds than the Richardson location," Hyden says. "Our place is great. I love going to our place on a Thursday when it's not super packed, but that Friday or Saturday crowd, it can get overwhelming at times."
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Hyden says that renovations are underway and they hope to hold their official grand opening on Dec. 5.
"We're probably 80 percent there," Hyden says. "We don't have a kitchen in Arlington so we have to do a full kitchen building which is one of the more difficult things to do, but most of the details are already worked out."
Hyden adds that the new location will not only give them more space to display his company's collection of 300 arcade games but they'll also be able to tap into new markets of gamers who don't have an arcade nearby.
"We have a huge Tarrant County audience already, so being in Tarrant County was by far our biggest target location, but downtown Arlington is getting really cool," Hyden says. "They have something like 2,000 upscale residences at this exact second. They have the awesome UT Arlington crowd. I have a really good feeling that downtown Arlington is going to be looked at for quite some time."