Yakima Gamers Will Soon Have A Place To Drink And Play
By Molly Allen
Yakima game-lovers will have a new hangout spot later this summer when
Game & Grog opens its doors downtown.
The new gaming bar at 118 S. First St. plans to open the first week of September.
While the concept is new for Yakima, the idea of combining arcade and video games with alcohol dates back to when Atari developed the first arcade game in 1971, when the company would test its products in bars.
Game & Grog owners Phillip and Kelly Rush saw a need in Yakima for this type of business, using similar establishments in the Seattle area to spark new ideas. Shooters in downtown Ellensburg also served as a major inspiration, they said.
Plus, they were simply ready to try a new career path.
As a surveyor for a civil tunneling project in Seattle, Phillip Rush watched too many people have close calls that could have cost them their lives.
“With that, we decided it was time to get out of construction and try something new,” he said. “It was time to really buckle down and follow the dream I’ve always had.”
Kelly Rush grew up in Yakima and knew this would be a one-of-a-kind concept to introduce in the area.
“She definitely knew there was a market for this kind of business in town that nobody was addressing,” Phillip said.
Based on that knowledge, the couple moved back to Yakima in April, specifically to open Game & Grog.
They spent three years researching the gaming bar model while living in Seattle.
“It always felt like there was a disconnect between the atmosphere of the bar itself and the gaming services provided,” Phillip said. “We want to create something where the games feel organic, not just tacked on to an existing bar.”
The gaming bar will feature a medieval theme, following the theme of many board, card and video games, he added.
“It just made sense for us to do the same for the bar,” he said. “And we really like the aesthetic. We even held a medieval-themed wedding for ourselves last August, complete with a dueling arena.”
Shooters, a popular gaming bar in Ellensburg which opened in 2012, provided a framework for the couple, who spent a lot of time there while attending Central Washington University.
“Mike and Brian from Shooters helped answer a ton of questions for me years ago when I first started planning this,” Phillip said, referring to Shooters owners Mike Morgan and Brian Morgan.
The bar will offer a wide selection of board games, retro video games and modern game systems, which will all be free for customers to play.
In addition, the bar will host in-house “Magic: The Gathering” events.
Game & Grog will be opening with a full bar and will also have a small menu of hot and cold sandwiches and sides for those working up an appetite while gaming.
Most of all, the Rushes said they are looking to provide a hangout spot for adult gamers, other than Ron’s Coin and Collectibles and PLAYlive Nation.
“Neither location serves alcohol or is designated 21 and older,” Phillip said. “It seemed like a night life gaming spot could fit in really well here.”
The game bar is the couple’s first attempt at running a business, but each of them has experience working as a bookkeeper. They also have firm backgrounds in dealing with vendors, distributors and business budgeting.
“This is just the next adventure in a long line of them for us together,” Phillip said.
Originally published in the Yakima Business Times