Up-Down's owners Josh Ivey, Sam Summers, and Rafe Mateer first met an an Iowa bar called Wooly's owned by Mateer. Ivey was a college student working there and Summers booked the musical acts. It's in the basement of that place, that the first Up-Down was born.
The idea came from Summers' bachelor party. The dude crew found themselves at a bar that had a host of arcade games. All three took a break from the fun to gaze around the room and realized, this was a good time that could be made even better. Ivey had a handy industry experience as a game tech and was already versed in coaxing glitchy old games back to life. So, they began buying these bleeping bits of nostalgia. Mateer was a wiz at restoring the exterior of the games. Bringing these old machines back to life became as much of a hobby as playing them.
Just as their workshop began filling up, the landlord at Wooly's let them know that the bar below them was closing and offered them the space. A month after signing the lease, the original Up-Down opened with the games they had collected. Eighteen months later the second location opened in Kansas City in a much larger space featuring patios and pizza by the slice.
Before opening the Kansas City location, much thought was given to the type of food that would be served. Although, anyone who has ever spent a childhood in rapt terror taking in an animatronic animal floor show could tell you, pizza is the only proper pairing for a championship run at Ms. Pac-Man.
Chef Ronald Gomez was brought on and brought with him his grandmother's pizza sauce recipe. This is above and beyond that stuff of youth. He began creating unique pizzas topped with bacon mac and cheese, chili cheese dog, and jalapeno popper pizza.
In Minneapolis, Up-Down will be expanding the kitchen the menu to whole pies, by the slice, or as a calzone. There will also be salads, for those grown-ups who feel like being responsible... and stuff.
The room is taking shape and the games (included Street Fighter II and the totally meta TRON) have arrived. Up-Down is located at 3012 Lyndale Ave S. is on track to open in a couple of short months.
Additional reporting by Theresa Swaney