“The Grid — a digital frontier. I tried to picture clusters of information as they moved through the computer. What did they look like? Ships? Motorcycles? Were the circuits like freeways? I kept dreaming of a world I thought I’d never see. And then one day … I got in.”
So begins the so-much-cooler-than-it-deserves-to-be 2010 sci-fi sequel, “Tron: Legacy,” but it just as easily describes the opening next week of Old Town’s newest bar: the Grid Arcade and Bar. For the last three months, co-owners Corey Montie and Callie Mykut have been teasing their future customers through social media with tidbits of information about the forthcoming business. They’ve also hosted a scavenger hunt contest that awarded T-shirts featuring their 8-bit mascot, the Critter, and passes to this week’s invite-only sneak opening.
And then, next week, everyone will get it.
“(The social media campaign) was a lot of fun to do, and it really surprised us how much interest there was,” Montie said. “The word-of-mouth has been staggering. We’ve had hundreds of likes on Facebook and just as many sign up for our newsletter. I’m really stoked to finally be able to show everyone what it is we’ve been working on.”
The bar/arcade will open Tuesday at 4 p.m. at 226 E. Grand River Ave., the former home of the Chrome Cat. It will feature 40 beer taps — half of which will be dedicated to Michigan beers — but the big draw will be the nearly three dozen vintage video games and pinball machines.
“We’ve got one pinball machine that dates back to the 1960s, but for the most part, all our video games will be from the heyday of the ‘80s and early ‘90s,” Montie said. “We’re really trying to capture that feeling you had when you were a kid and able to go to the arcade for the first time with your friends. But now, you can actually drink if you want to.”
Since the Grid is a bar, the under- 21s will still be relegated to congregating at Pinball Pete’s in East Lansing. Opening week specials at the Grid include special one-off brews by Perrin Brewing Co. out of Comstock Park and Short’s Brewing Co. in Bellaire. The Grid won’t have a kitchen, but Montie said he’s working with neighbors Pablo’s Panaderia and Sir Pizza to provide in-house snacks. He’s coy about the interior (“We want there to be some surprises still.”), but leaked photos reveal a massive neon Pac-Man and a second-story lounge that features a vintage Nintendo machine hooked up to a giant flatscreen TV.
“Nowadays, you can play video games anywhere you want,” Montie said. “Everyone’s walking around with a video game machine in their pocket. What we’re trying to do is reintroduce the social aspect of video games. When I was a kid, we played video games standing up. I hope we don’t see people just sitting at the bar or at a table drinking. I want to see them up, moving around, playing games and interacting with other people.”
To encourage gameplay, every drink you order at the Grid will come with three tokens. The video games will cost one token, while the pinball machines will cost two. The 3,000-square-foot bar can accommodate about 100 customers, and its location smack dab in the middle of Cesar Chavez Plaza means ample free parking. Montie, a Lansing native who’s spent the bulk of his post-high school life traveling the world, said he thinks the Grid is a complement to the local craft beer scene, filling a niche that’s doing gangbuster business in destination cities across the country.
“I think (Lansing) is finally coming into its own, and people are recognizing the possibilities of what we can do here,” Montie said. “Minds are slowly opening, and Lansing-area people seem to be much more willing to try new things than they were when I was growing up. I’m happy to be part of that and help that along.”
Up in smoke
Last weekend, Red’s Smokehouse owner/chef Carol “Red” Smith announced that she had smoked her last brisket — at least for the foreseeable future. On Sunday, Smith hosted an event, aptly named Last Day, at the Avenue Café.
“With a heavy heart I must announce the closing of Red's Smokehouse,” read the event’s notice on Facebook. “We will be having a rib dinner as well as our burger menu on Sunday. Come on by say good bye and have dinner or drinks.”
Smith had been utilizing the Avenue as the commissary kitchen for her food truck, Red’s Smokehouse Burgers & BBQ. She was initially using the food truck as a stopgap measure as she readied a brick-and-mortar location adjacent to the Allen Market Place in Lansing’s Eastside Neighborhood. However, that deal never materialized following the fizzling of her crowdsourcing campaign to raise $40,000, about half of what she needed to pay for renovation to the space. She also cited “personal hardships” as a reason for stepping away from running the business, but declined to elaborate. Yet she was unwilling to say that Red’s was gone forever.
“You never know what the future holds,” she said. “But for now, it’s just time to take a break.”
The Grid 226 E. Grand River Ave., Lansing 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.- midnight Friday; noon-midnight Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday (517) 885-3010, thegridoldtown.com