Food, Beer, and Pinball – All In One Location
A New Concept Rises On St. Peter Street
By William Legault
Once again the old Salem Jail location on St. Peter Street will be host to a another new business. This time it is truly a new and perhaps exciting concept that we have not seen before in Salem.
Bit Bar Salem is marketing itself as a “Bar, Arcade, Restaurant” and they just recently applied for the ABCC for the liquor license held by the restaurant that formerly occupied the jail space. Salem residents are already weighing in on the Bit Bar Salem Facebook page asking questions as to what the arcade games will cost and also requesting specifically themed games such as Mortal Kombat, The Soprano’s, and The Addams Family.
They will be the beneficiary of a small amount of parking that has not previously been there. The city is working to create some parking spaces in a the neglected park that sits alongside Bridge Street and the Ayube Bypass. The spaces will not be dedicated to the business and is partially meant to ease parking issues on Howard Street. Nevertheless it will assist somewhat is dispelling the parking myths and fears.
Parking however, has never been the issue at that location no matter how many times some have claimed otherwise. That spot is no further from the Church Street lots and the municipal garage than many of the restaurants and other business on Washington Street. The new owners would be wise to work with the property managers and the city to create signage not only on the St. Peter Street side of the property, but also in the city parking areas.
There has also been much chatter on social media that this is not a good idea for a myriad of reasons. It is not fair to the arcade at the Salem Willows Park being one, the noise bothering the neighbors being another, and of course the old stand by that the location itself is just not viable.
That is all foolishness. The businesses at the Willows will be be fine. Despite the presence of at least six full service or takeout Chinese/Asian restaurants throughout the city. Salem Loew still manages to sell more chop suey sandwiches on a weekend than you can count. Any noise issues will be dealt with if and when they occur, as is done throughout the downtown every year. The location is viable, dependent on a good product, good service, and proper marketing.
Any comparison to the old arcade at Museum Place Mall is not fair, especially in view of the horrid and uncaring management at that location by Marley Properties.
The only issue that concerns us here is the matter of those under the age of 21 who may not be accompanied by an adult, being present where liquor is being served. This happens at other restaurants, but those restaurants do not feature pinball machines and video games that tend to attract a younger crowd. It is sure that the Salem Licensing Board will require that processes and personnel are in place in order to keep full order in that regard.
I played a little pinball long ago, but was never a pinball wizard. Space Invaders and Asteroids were around when I was a kid also. These games will not draw me in, but good food, a cold beer, and a fun atmosphere just might.
You can be assured of one thing as a result of this new endeavor. The Bit Bar Salem will provide some local interest, and perhaps a little happiness and excitement an an old spot in Salem that for many years never saw any happiness.