Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: It's 'game time' for Manchester arcade barBy KATIE McQUAID
September 14. 2018 11:03PM
Freshly wedded in a garden ceremony at Bedford Village Inn, Chuck and Sara Vorias greeted their wedding reception guests to the Eddy Grant hit “Electric Avenue.”
Why would a couple getting married in 2003 choose a reggae-pop tune from 1982?
“Because it’s the greatest song ever,” Chuck declared unequivocally. “Do you even have to ask?”
Chuck and Sara’s love of 1980s nostalgia goes beyond the decade’s music, inspiring them to open Manchester’s first arcade bar and name it after “the greatest song ever.” Electric Avenue will draw in new and old game enthusiasts with the bright lights and iconic sounds of retro games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Q*bert.
“We’ve wanted to have a business together for a really long time,” said Sara. The 1990 Trinity grad and mental health counselor was wearing an Asteroids t-shirt during my recent tour of the space. Chuck, Memorial Class of 1988 and a school counselor in Nashua, had chosen an Atari tee.
The couple got the idea for the arcade bar while visiting one in Asheville, N.C., and set out looking for machines.
“Chuck made a list of 50 must-haves,” said Sara. “He went to look for games and said ‘We’ll never find them all. This is a crazy idea.’”
But fate stepped in as an arcade in Salem decided to close its doors, selling the Voriases much of their inventory. They now have 38 classic video game and pinball machines lining the walls of a former karate studio at 24 Bridge St., just a Frogger jump from Elm.
Sara and Chuck have three boys, 10, 12 and 14 years old, so Electric Avenue will be family-friendly. But only until 8 p.m. when it becomes a 21-plus establishment, serving bar snacks and canned beverages — soda, beer and those trendy new canned wines.
Sara scavenged Electric Avenue’s bar from the recently closed Raxx Lounge, giving it a new life with paint and some excellent 1980s album covers decoupaged across the top. The free bar isn’t the only benefit Electric Avenue will reap from the closing of nearby Raxx. A developer is spending $3 million to turn the shabby 1195 Elm Street building into high-end apartments.
“Can you imagine how nice it’s going to be back here?” Sara said, looking out Electric Avenue’s back door at the Pearl Street lot they will share with the new apartments.
Chuck hasn’t yet tracked down all his 50 must-have games. But he did find an important one not on his original list. A game called Paperboy was one of Sara’s favorites back in the day and the former Union Leader paper girl popped in a token and grabbed the handlebar-shaped controller to show me her skills.
“Oh no! They all canceled their subscriptions,” she said after too many terribly tossed papers.
Electric Avenue should be open in a few weeks. Check out Instagram and Facebook for updates on the Vorias’ progress.
Manchester’s final Trolley Night of 2018 is this Thursday, Sept. 20. Two trolleys will circulate to many of Manchester’s art studios, galleries and cultural attractions from 5 to 8 p.m. Guests can park anywhere along the route and hop on or off at any venue.
Trolley night is free, with many venues holding special events, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and promotions planned specifically for the evening.
Find a map and list of participating venues at www.manchestertrolley.org.
Congratulations to Executive Chef David Soha and his team at Courville Communities for winning the Easterseals NH Frosting Frenzy cake decorating competition at Fratello’s on Wednesday night.
Soha’s delicious, moist and gooey chocolate and caramel cake was shaped like an old-timey movie camera, capturing the Hollywood theme perfectly. The pyrotechnics were a nice touch, too.
The winner of the People’s Choice cupcake competition was Executive Chef Eric McAndrews of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
I had the pleasure of filling up on cakes with fellow competition judges Neal White of WZID and Josh Judge of WMUR. All the cake designs were so amazing, it was tough to distinguish a winner, but I’m already looking forward to seeing next year’s creations.
Know something happening in Manchester? Contact Katie at email@example.com.