Four friends combine their strengths to make Level 1 Arcade Bar thrive

Level 1 Arcade Bar, Scott Goldsmith, TJ Tillman, Steve Tillman, Adam LeRoy
Level 1 Arcade Bar has been a project for friends (from left) Scott Goldsmith, TJ Tillman, Steve Tillman and Adam LeRoy. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Level 1 Arcade Bar has been a project for friends (from left) Scott Goldsmith, TJ Tillman, Steve Tillman and Adam LeRoy. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Special events like pinball tournaments bring out large crowds. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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TJ Tillman said bartenders brought patrons with them and keep a finger on the bar's pulse. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Scott Goldsmith said he grew up a big fan of video arcades and did not really lose that love as he grew up, turning into a collector of the machines. So he said the thought of owning an arcade bar, like the one his friend Steve Tillman saw on a business trip to Denver, was exciting.

“We were all hanging out at my pool at a birthday party a couple years ago and started talking about it,” Steve's brother TJ said. “And then we were like, ‘Man, we could actually really do this.’ And so we met up at my conference room at the time there and between a couple of pizzas and a bottle of bourbon, we kind of hashed everything out on a whiteboard.”

And there was the birth of Level 1 Arcade Bar, a “squad” of four friends, each with different areas of expertise. TJ, in wealth management, brings the financial know-how; Steve is in human resources and handles the people; Adam LeRoy is the insurance guru; and Goldsmith is in marketing and social media, plus he brings the critical arcade knowledge piece.

TJ said Goldsmith is “meticulous.” Goldsmith calls the games “an absolute obsession of mine.”

“We spend the time to put the effort and the money into restoring the machines so that it looked as brand new as possible and keeping them working perfectly as possible,” Goldsmith said. “So when somebody walks in, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, it looks exactly like it did in 1992 when I saw it when it first came out.’ That was our goal.”

The nostalgic vibe extends to the music played, mostly from the arcade era of 1980s, ‘90s and the early 2000s.

The end result is part arcade and part bar, a place where families can bring their kids, who are welcome through 7 p.m., but also one where the adults can hang out and have a good time at night, TJ said.

The owners also like the location in the Heritage District, just off Gilbert Road by one of the town’s free parking garages. They plan to open a second location soon in downtown Mesa, which they see undergoing its own rebirth. The Gilbert bar gives people an option of something to do downtown beyond getting a meal or a drink.

“We’ll come here on a Friday and Saturday night just to hang out because we just love the energy,” TJ said. “We love seeing people have a good time playing on the games, and it’s just a fun, happy place to be.”
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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