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On My Mind: Screenland gets some retro fittings

Jason Chaffee, who now runs Screenland Crossroads.

“These are the games you grew up with. If you remember grandma taking you to the mall and giving you a couple of bucks to play, these are the ones.”

JASON CHAFFEE, 32

Owner/operator of Screenland Crossroads

This ain’t Dave & Buster’s.

You’ll find no Dance Dance Revolution or giant driving games that cost $5 for a few minutes of play.

Under new ownership, Screenland Crossroads, 1656 Washington St., in Kansas City, has added an arcade of throw-back video games to its offerings: Tron, Donkey Kong (Junior and 3), Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, Paperboy, Missile Command and Return of the Jedi to name a few.

To Jason Chaffee, vintage movies and vintage arcade games are a perfect combination. Chaffee and long-time friend Eric Graves debuted the new combo on Nov. 10 and plan to expand the business’s offerings to give the area a taste of nostalgia with a new-school twist.

Special to Ink

On the idea: “I had originally wanted to do a vintage arcade after visiting one in Springfield, Mo. I thought, “Kansas City needs something like this.’ … Eric (Graves) said, ‘I really like that arcade thing. What if we combine that with a kind of cult, indie movie concept?’ So we started planning …”

On getting Screenland: “We started on a grass-roots level to gauge interest, to see if it was something people would buy. Someone we met knew the owner of Screenland Crossroads, who was looking for a life change. He reached out to us and asked ‘Do you want to take over the location?’ The stars aligned for us on that.”

On what you’ll find: “It’s a vintage arcade, or ‘barcade’ as we call it, in combination with a movie theater in which we show independent films, cult classics, weird stuff, fun stuff. It’s kind of a one-of-a-kind, unique entertainment experience that Kansas City hasn’t had before.”

On the business of gaming: “Making people happy is more rewarding than playing video games. I like to spend most of my down time improving the business model to make it better for people. I kind of stopped (playing) in my early 20s, but I still appreciate it and like it. If you just want to come and do the arcade, it’s seven bucks and you can stay and play as long as you want. If you incorporate that with a movie theater ticket it’s five. No need to spend 20, 30 or 50 dollars on quarters or anything like that.”

On their retro games: “These are the ones from the late ’70’s on through the early ’80’s: classics that most people will remember, but probably haven’t thought about in a while. It’s bringing nostalgia back, back to that happy childhood place, but in a modern way.”

On the gaming fanbase: “A lot of people (at the soft opening) were really excited about the arcade. We’re not opposed to branching out, but right now the core demographic is Generation Y. It’s typically the 18- to 35-year-old crowd, the kind of midtown crowd, or folks who like cult films and just want to come out and have a good time. Eventually, we’re planning children’s activities on a Saturday morning at an 11 o’clock show — an arts and crafts set up; (then a) matinee of movie classics to get an older demographic in there. ”

On what movies/videogames he’d take to a desert island: (Long pause) “Ohhhh, that’s hard. OK, games: I’ll take Galaga. (Longer pause) I’m in a corner here, I don’t know. Uh, let’s see, let’s jump to movies. One of my all-time favorites is ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,’ the old Clint Eastwood epic Western.”

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