Namco is hoping to create a “restaurant-centered, destination entertainment concept”, an evolution of its traditional arcade business.
Namco is the business division of Namco Bandai in charge of its arcade operations.
“We’ve been exploring a number of new business models and noodling the future of Out-of-Home entertainment for several years now, and our current planning does include an ‘upscale’ restaurant with ‘entertainment elements’. And yes, we’ve been working with an established American restaurateur, as well as some other really talented external professionals, to develop the concept,” Namco COO David Bishop told Polygon.
Codenamed Level 256, the project is in early stages with no launch date; Bishop said he hopes an announcement will come soon.
Polygon cites anonymous sources for more details, namely that the restaurateur in question hails from Kansas City, “runs a variety of upscale European bistros in the Midwest”, and is eyeing off locations in Chicago.
Gaming-themed restaurants are reasonably popular in parent company Namco Bandai’s home territory of Japan; Capcom has one, and flash bars and restaurants sometimes open to promote new releases, like Catherine. Gaming-themed pubs and club nights are gaining popularity, too; just off the top off my head, there’s the Mana Bar in Melbourne and Brisbane and Insert Coins in Sydney.
With so few remaining solvent, it’s clear that arcades have lost much of their relevancy – so but Namco, once the largest arcade operator in the US, still maintains a strong amusement foothold, with 20,000 commercial games, rides, attractions and devices. Its assets are spread across amusement destinations like theatres, restaurants and bowling alleys in more than 1,000 US and Caribbean locations.