GREETINGS, and welcome back to our next story in our Rocket Punch Creator Spotlight series! This week, we were super excited to sit down and have a chat with Richard Moss, the owner of a new local restaurant/bar/arcade hybrid, located within downtown Huntsville, Alabama, called Pints and Pixels! After looking at cool, nerdy places that other cities around the country had, Richard took matters into his own hands, and with the help of some talented and knowledgeable people, including an awesome locally owned restaurant, Richard has opened up the first, and one of the coolest, restaurant and arcade spaces in downtown Huntsville. Richard is incredibly ecstatic to open his business to the people, and we were just as thrilled to get the chance and talk with him about how he decided on this concept, the challenges with bringing it together, and what his plans are for the future of Pints and Pixels!
Pints and Pixels
Tue-Thu: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Fri-Sat: 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Sun: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Websites and Contact:
Rocket Punch: Hello everyone. Welcome back, this is Seth and we are on location at our next venue for our creator spotlight, Pints and Pixels. A brand new Barcade in Huntsville, Alabama. And I am super excited to be joined by Richard Moss, the owner of this fine establishment here. Richard, tell us a little bit about Pints and Pixels. It’s a Barcade here in Huntsville, Alabama. Tell us a little bit about it and how did it start.
Richard Moss: It started with an envy for Barcades that we saw in other cities. We saw Barcades in places like Portland, Denver and Brooklyn and we really wanted something like that for ourselves. Eventually decided that we were the ones to make it happen. So, we started researching, buying games and all of that good stuff. Three years later here we are. We’re a “Barcade”. We don’t advertise with that word but it’s becoming a common word to use. Unlike a lot of the Barcades that are out there, we do have a full restaurant, a full menu with our partnership with Anaheim Chili. A full bar and of course over fifty arcade games including thirteen pin-ball machines.
RP: So why exactly did you decide to open a place like this here in Huntsville, Alabama?
RM: Well, right now downtown Huntsville is being re-developed at a very rapid rate. There’s a group of people in this city who have a vision for what this area could be. And what we want it to be. I’ll include myself in part of that group. Not that there’s a group that goes and has meetings or anything outside of the guys of the Downtown Huntsville Inc. There’s a much larger community that shares that vision. It seemed like a concept that could work well in Huntsville in general, particularly in Downtown Huntsville. It seemed like the right time and the right place. It was just something that we really wanted ourselves. We decided to jump in with both feet and take a chance on it.
RP: So in opening Pints and Pixels what was the most challenging obstacle that you had to overcome? In the three year journey of opening this establishment?
RM: Probably finding the right space because, we looked at space all over the city including Madison. All of the way out on County Line Road which is in Limestone County. Not even in Madison County. So, finding the right spot for your restaurant concept, of any kind, is very crucial. This one is so niche and so specific in what it’s about that I think it was even more difficult for us. The space we finally wound up in, I really like it at the end of the day. It came available just at the right time. It’s awesome. We love it.
RP: Cool, so in this journey from start to where you are now what was the most fulfilling part so far? Your coming up on your grand opening. You’ve had this soft opening so far. What was the most fulfilling part of this so far?
RM: Seeing peoples reactions and talking to customers who have come in and they haven’t even had a chance to have the full experience yet. They just walked in and looked around. We’ve said all along as part of the design that we needed both in terms of the quantity and quality of games that we have on the floor and in terms of the rest of the games are a part of your visual design of your place. They dominate the field of view. All of the other things like the mural on the wall, the colors and the tables. Everything you pick has to come together in a cohesive concept. We feel like we were successful in that. When people come off of the elevator their eyes get big or say “Wow!”. Or they thank you for being there and for bringing this here. It is very fulfilling. It’s been nice to see that reaction. We hope we can give that reaction for years to come.
RP: That’s awesome. This question is coming, what’s your favorite arcade cabinet and/or pinball machine?
RM: Okay, I’ve gotten that one a bunch. I have to say that the long term I don't have one consistent favorite. I definitely have go to games. Ms. Pac is one of those. It’s uber classic and I always have fun playing it. For me it’s which game am I playing the most right now? Right now that’s Spiderman Pin-ball. I just got it last week and it is so fun, I’m telling you it’s awesome. And I’m a spider-nut anyway, so that’s really worked well for me. They did the re-release of the game with a different comic book instead of being based on the movie. So the first Spiderman pin Stern did was based on the ’05 movie. That was great and everything but now it looks a little dated. They went back and redid all of the sound and animations and all kinds of stuff. Even changed the rule set a little bit. Basically the only thing they really kept was the shot geometry play field. It’s like a whole new game and it’s awesome. I love it.
RP: That’s cool. Now, one thing that stands out as soon as you start playing with the gear here is how well maintained everything is, and in how great condition things are. That must have been a lot of work to get things going like that. What did that process look like? Getting all of the stuff up and running and looking so good?
RM: First off, thank you for noticing that. There was a ton of work involved in that. That was something that we learned in our research. That a lot of the Barcades we went to had games not working or controls not working. Or various games being down. You can certainly understand a certain amount of these retro games that are thirty five years old having problems. Some of them are more difficult to maintain than others. You’re going to run into the occasional one that is down, and that’s okay. Beyond that you get to where a quarter of the games are down, that’s a bad experience. So, we’ve worked very hard to keep the games in very good working order and before launch spent a lot of time restoring games or repairing games or replacing all the capacitors on the monitor chases to really have those monitors looking good. Replaces a lot of joysticks, buttons things like that. Making sure the controls worked was a very high priority for us. So, the way it looked was over the three year span, 90% of the time working on it was going on road trips to collect games. We weren’t really restoring much or repairing. We did a little bit here and there. Most of the time we were looking everywhere we possibly could to find games and then going and getting them. It takes all day to get a game from Atlanta and come back. We did that on a lot of weekends on the first couple of years. The last year we started to tilt much more towards the restoration and repair work. Especially the last three months or so before we opened. We were going crazy at it. We wanted everything working good, looking good. After we had them all on the floor there were still all of these little issues. Simple stuff even like, if you look around on the floor all of the marquee boards are working. Those bulbs are always dead. Even after we replaced some of them they’ve gone dead again. Same thing for the coin reject buttons. We try to keep all of those lit up. The arcade looks completely different when all of those lights are than when half of them are out. We put a lot of effort into that so again thanks for noticing that.
RP: You did a great job because everyone that I’ve talked to so far has commented on the quality of restoration of a lot of this stuff and the maintenance of all of it.
RM: That’s awesome. Thank you.
RP: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve noticed so far with opening up in Huntsville? What has stood out to you as being the most surprising?
RM: Can I say two things?
RP: Of course!
RM: I would say one is the amount of pinball being played. Pinball is really doing well. There are a lot of times you’ll go over and every game had someone playing it. I’m amazed by that and I think it’s awesome because this validates that we thought that pinball was in a resurgence right now. It makes us very glad that we decided to invest as heavily in pinball as we did. The other aspect that I would say has been surprising has just been the sheer enthusiasm you see from people when they’re playing these games. Last Saturday night we kept hearing people shouting. At first I thought there was a problem, so I came out here and saw that it was just a bunch of people playing NBA Jam. There were four people playing and another five people watching so when somebody throws down a dunk or gets a three pointer they’re yelling about it. Or they’re playing X-men and beat a boss! There was a group playing and they defeated one of the bosses, I’m not sure if it was at the end or not, but they were high-fiving each other. It’s a lot of enthusiasm of playing a little Ms. Pacman, have a beer and then go home. People are excited! That’s just been awesome to watch as well.
RP: So, the last question that I have for you is this. We have the Creator Spotlight to kind of highlight and celebrate people who build something or make something. What advice would you give to someone who has a project on their own that they want to start? It could be starting a business like this or it could be a side project that’s geeky. What advice would you give to someone after going through the opening of your business here?
RM: Well, the first advice is just: Do it. Because if you don’t do it you’ve already failed. You’ve got a choice of taking a chance and having an adventure and whatever happens, happens. But at least you had an adventure. If you don’t take any risks you didn’t have any adventures and what good is that? Get over your fear and jump in. That’s the first thing. The second thing is, if it’s not something you’ve already had a lot of experience with to some capacity then talk to a lot of people who know a lot about what you’re trying to get into. People are usually very willing to share their knowledge and experience in whatever walk of life they’ve been in. Wether they’ve been successful or have had a failure, whatever it is they want to share that. If they’ve had a failure they want to help the next guy to not fail. That’s something we definitely did because we didn’t have a lot of restaurant experience. We tried to talk to as many people as we knew. We didn’t know a lot of restaurant owners, we knew a few so we tried to learn what we could from them. And sought out a parter who had a lot more experience than we had. Take your time. It’s one of those things I say jump in but it’s more like hurry up and wait. You do want to do it, but at the same time you need to do your research. Don’t just jump in and be stupid about it. All of those discussions with people who are more knowledgable than you are part of the research. It’s not the entirety of it but it is apart of it. Do your research, and then go for it. Take your best shot. Even if it doesn’t work out you’re going to be able to walk away with your head held high and say we really tried. And even if it didn’t work out we had a good run. That may still happen for us, we’re just getting our doors open. It looks good right now but we’re brand new. Everyplace that’s brand new is busy. It’s great to see the enthusiasm and all of that but then again if people come in and play X-Men and then don’t feel like doing it again for a while. If we get too much of that we might not make enough money to stay open, I don’t know. That’s going to be the challenge, not right now. It would be six months from now or a year from now. Keeping people aware and keeping the enthusiasm up. Having events and all of that stuff. We don’t really have time to do that kind of stuff right now. As we get into a routine we definitely want to add that to try to keep the interest up. This thing could totally fail but even if it does I’m not going to look back at it with a bunch of regrets. I’m going to say we still had our adventure. To sum it all up, have adventures.
RP: That’s it, that’s really great advice. Last, but certainly not the least we’ve heard all of the great things about this place. How can people find you? Where can they go to find out more information about you guys?
RM: We have our website which is pintsandpixels.pub and our Facebook page is very active and updated. Just Pints and Pixels on Facebook. As far as the actual location we’re a block North of the square downtown. Directly across from the Clinton Avenue parking garage. The big UG white mercantile, big neon sign. We’re on the third floor of the building so come on out and see us.
RP: Awesome. Well, Richard it has been fantastic getting to chat with you here. Couldn’t be more excited to have Pints and Pixels to be here. Thank you so much for being featured here in our Creator Spotlight and taking a couple of minutes to sit down and share your story. We’re super excited for you and we wish you the best of luck. If you want to ask any questions please feel free to follow us online at rocketpunchgo. Send any questions over to us. And if you have a good idea for a future Creator Spotlight, let us know. Send us an email at email@example.com. and we’d love to reach out and share your story too. Richard, thank you so much for chatting with us for a little bit and best of luck to you man.
RM: Thank you man.
We really want to thank Richard for taking the time from his busy schedule to sit down and talk with us about his awesome, new business in Huntsville! There is a lot of passion and pride from Richard about Pints and Pixels, and it definitely shows, not just during our talk with him, but also in the establishment itself, from the food and atmosphere, to the arcade cabinets and various artwork across the building! Be sure to check out their Facebook page and main website, which are linked at the top of the page. Plus, if you are in town, be sure to swing by Pints and Pixels this Saturday, April 9th, for their Grand Opening! You may catch us over there as well! As always, keep following Rocket Punch to catch all of the awesome creators like Richard that we can talk to, and also the best geek and gaming content in the Southeast!