NQ64: The Success Of Manchester’s Appealing Retro Arcade Bar

Located in the heart of the Northern Quarter lies NQ64 – Manchester’s only arcade-themed bar.

The retro games bar on Short Street close to Crazy Pedro’s has gone from strength-to-strength since opening in February.

The establishment is home to a wide-range of ‘80s and ‘90s games and arcades and you cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia upon entering this gaming nirvana.

But how did this distinctive Manchester venue come to be?

Joel Gray, NQ64 Bar Manager, said: “It was a bit of dead space in between Black Dog and [Crazy] Pedro’s and it seemed like the perfect place to do it.

“It has been done before in other parts of the world and other parts of the country, to be fair; but in Manchester, I think it was really, really lacking something like this and it’s not been done to this scale before.

“There are a lot of bars in Manchester but I think it’s the one thing that it needed and I think it’s proved that it was needed.

“It’s been a hell of a lot busier than we thought it was going to be.”

When asked what brings people to NQ64 to spend their time, Joel said: “For a lot of people it’s a classic bit of nostalgia.”

Yet Joel is quick to highlight the clientele goes beyond the nostalgia crowd.

Indeed, a diverse range of customers are coming through the door, collectively creating a social and friendly atmosphere that no doubt contributes to the bar’s appeal.  

“We have such a mixed crowd from 18-year-old students to 50-year-old men,” said Joel.

“You get couples coming in, having a beer and playing games. It is an utter mix and it works really well.

“I don’t think there are many bars that you can go in and there be such a mix of people that all get along at the same time.

“Everyone is so friendly when they come in; we don’t have any trouble, everyone’s occupied playing games and having a good time.

“We set ourselves apart from other bars in that it is not just solely drinking, it’s gaming as well and socialising at the same time,” he added.

When you look at the range of games & arcades and food & drink available, the effort and research that has gone into their selection is plain to see. 

You can come with friends or turn up solo and play with or against other customers – there really is something for everyone which, perhaps, is part of its appeal.

Classic arcade games like Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders and Street Fighter II are there to take you back to your childhood days.

In contrast, you can break out the dances moves on more modern games like Euromix or release your inner-rock star on Guitar Hero.

Each arcade machine requires one NQ64-engraved token to play, with tokens costing £5 for 15.

This low cost is value for money, especially when stacked against the cost of a night out or a visit to arcades at coastal towns.

Surplus tokens can be taken home at the end of the night as a memento or can be deposited into a machine – for every token put in, the bar will donate money to charity.

The games selection also includes free-to-play classic consoles N64, SNES, SEGA Mega Drive and an original PlayStation and there is even a free-to-play arcade machine in each toilet.

“In terms of the games and the machines, we are going to update a couple and if you ever come in and there’s a game that we’ve not got, please let us know,” said Joel.  

The bar boasts a range of beers on draught as well as cans and bottles which are rotated constantly; whilst on the food front, there are delectable retro crisps.

“We have Monster Munch, Space Raiders, and all old school crisps that you would have eaten as a kid when you played games,” said Joel.

A real treat for customers is the themed-cocktails brilliantly curated by the staff themselves.

There is the Princess Peach (presecco, peach, orgeat and Pimento Dram); E.T.ini (gin, lemon, grapefruit, agave, ale and aromatic spirit); and The Mario (bourbon, watermelon, Campari and soda) to name but a few.

“The cocktails we’ve got are selling really well – everybody loves them.”

The underground drinking den is decorated with glow-in-the-dark graffiti sprayed across the walls and ceiling.

Such artistry certainly fits in with the bar’s vibe and complements its quirky and unique style.

“It’s something that we are all a fan of.

“We have a lot of friends that are good graffiti artists and we like the look of it.

“With it being kind of a retro arcade bar, we spray painted the walls. It looks good and we’re supporting local artists.”

NQ64 is at 2 Short Street, Northern Quarter, M1 1JG.

Opening times are: Monday – Friday 4pm – 2am and Saturday & Sunday midday – 2am.

You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook and visit their website:

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