Arcade Asheville nixing the food and going full-time bar

Game on! Although Arcade is becoming a private night club, children will still be allowed inside until 9 p.m. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Arcade Asheville is phasing out the food and becoming a private nightclub, says owner Joshua Aaron. Daytime hours, at least during weekdays, are over. Weekend hours — and half-price drink menu on Sundays — will remain the same. The new hours are 5 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, noon until 2:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Kids are still allowed in Arcade until 9 p.m. when accompanied by adults. But don’t expect to order a PB&J with bacon.

The Arcade menu, laden with sandwiches, tater tot nachos and other alcohol-absorbing (and often pork-enhanced) offerings was not, it seems, holding its own. “From a dollars-and-cents perspective, it doesn’t make sense,” Aaron says of the foodservice side of his business. “We’re constantly listening to our customers, and what they say is that they love us as a venue or bar and don’t care so much about eating here. And we want to focus on what we do well.” That, says Aaron, entails providing a good time and focusing on making drinks for an often demanding weekend crowd. Aaron says that a limited finger-food menu will also be offered, but the real energy will be put into keeping the nightclub party scene going in a safe (yet still fun) manner.

Aaron says that the Arcade tends to hit capacity by 10 p.m. every weekend, and some locals and regulars have complained that the packed and occasionally rowdy scene felt overwhelming at those times. “As the popularity goes through the roof, we attract people from all corners of the map,” he says. “But we’re listening to our local downtown demographic. [Switching to a] private club will allow us to keep the people that are good for our business and filter out the clientele that inevitably give a bar a bad name. We have no shortage of business; we just want the right business.”

“We want Asheville to know that we’re taking care of them like they take care of us. We don’t want to see our business deteriorate for some short money — that ride only lasts so long if we’re not catering to the people that are here to stay,” says Aaron. “We want Asheville to know that we listen. We opened this place as a bar for this town.”

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