When Chinatown Fair closed in March of last year, Filmmaker Kurt Vincent went to work documenting the New York arcade’s final days, continuing to return to the location after it shuttered to work on his upcoming film, Arcade. Imagine his surprise when he ran into Lonnie Sobel, the famous amusement hall’s new owner, stocking it with new game cabinets. It’s been a few months since Vincent’s discovery, but Chinatown Fair finally reopened its doors over the weekend. Old regulars may want to brace themselves, however, Sobel’s playing a different game.
“We’re kind of a cross between a Dave & Busters and a Chuck E. Cheese,” the new owner told Gothamist, “We’re trying to do the best of both worlds.” Sobel’s hoping to merge the old Chinatown Fair’s culture of fighting games with an assortment of family friendly amusements: skee-ball, air hockey, Guitar Hero, hoop basketball and a counter for redeeming tickets for prizes. The new Fair will also sell game time for use on a Xbox 360 and games like Call of Duty, played on one of two flat screen televisions. Not all of the old arcade’s former regulars are happy with the changes, but, as Vincent noted, they “say they’re just happy it exists.” That makes more than a few of us.