In “Ten Years After”, Ground Kontrol vice president Anthony Dandrea will take you through the past 10 years of GK history. We’re going to start the series with a look at Ground Kontrol before its current ownership!
Ground Kontrol may have opened its doors in 1999, but it took a change in ownership– and direction– to transform what was once a “retrocade” into the classic arcade & bar we know now. That change happened ten years ago today, on March 22nd, 2003, when the current owners of Ground Kontrol got the keys and first opened the doors to their own arcade….
In 2003, Ground Kontrol “Retrocade” was a very different place. Located at 610 SW 12th Avenue, it was more store than an arcade. A long counter, tall display racks, and a long wall space were devoted to selling vintage home computers and video game systems, “import” CDs (actually CD-R bootlegs of live performances) and used VHS copies of cheesy ’80s movies. The previous owners envisioned it as a shrine to a very specific era– the early ’80s, when Reagan was president, the cold war raged, and the Atari 2600 was king– as its displays and signage announced loud and clear.
It was clear early on that the GK 1.0 “design” left a lot of room for improvement. A second location on Hawthorne Avenue had come and gone, a victim of high rents and low income. Processing the used movies, music and home videogames consumed a lot of time and energy, while people wanted “newer” systems like the NES and Super Nintendo. And, there were far too few people in the arcade most of the time, especially at night. We began to tinker with the formula.
Next Up: Ground Kontrol’s First Free-Play Party