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Annapolis

Arcade bar GameOn enlivens former firehouse in Annapolis

The signature dish at GameOn Bar + Arcade, a new arcade bar in Annapolis, couldn’t be any simpler. Called Frito pie, it’s not really pie at all, but a ripped-open bag of Fritos topped with chili. And it’s a beloved snack in parts of the Midwest, as well as Texas and New Mexico.

This March, Frito pie found a new home in Annapolis, where it’s served as part of a limited menu that also includes gourmet pop tarts and a grown-up take on the Capri Sun, that metallic-enclosed staple of any 1990s childhood.

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Owners are husband and wife team Eli and Casey Linthicum of Ellicott City. (Yes, Eli’s family is related to the Linthicums for whom the town in Anne Arundel County is named.) They met while working at Columbia’s now-closed Coho Grill, which was owned by Eli’s uncle, and both bring extensive hospitality experience to their young business. Casey, 33, previously ran a McDonald’s franchise with her dad in Howard County, while Eli, 38, was the general manager of Urban Axes in Baltimore.

The idea for an arcade bar happened after they visited a similar “barcade” in New York City a few years ago. “Ever since then, it was in the back of our minds,” she said. When they found a West Street space in Annapolis, they fell for the street and surrounding neighborhood, which has a “fun, small-town feel, " she said.

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“The timing just worked out great — we just kind of went for it.” Casey, who also previously worked as a wildland firefighter in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said she particularly loved the building, a former firehouse that had been converted into a commercial space.

On an outdoor patio, the pub offers an assortment of games, including corn hole and giant Jenga, while guests indoors can play standup arcade games like Skee-Ball and Golden Tee, a golfing game. “Everyone’s really into Golden Tee,” she said. They also offer some old-school games like Pac-Man and Tapper.

Already, the space has become a destination for corporate events and bachelorette parties. For catering, GameOn partners with Annapolis restaurants Caliente Grill, Luna Blu and Pit Boys. That last restaurant happens to make the chili for the Frito pie, too.

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Within months of opening the branch in Annapolis, they added a second location of GameOn in Baltimore’s Federal Hill neighborhood. “We weren’t planning on expanding that quickly, but when we found the space — it just worked out,” she said. The new branch includes two floors of bars and arcade games with a third-floor speakeasy.

Casey says they’re looking to launch a GameOn bar in Frederick, one in Columbia, near Merriweather Post Pavilion, and possibly another branch in Baltimore, this time in the city’s Hampden neighborhood. The key to such rapid growth? Keeping things simple, and having “an amazing team,” said Casey.

At the same time they’re expanding their new business empire, their family, too, is growing. The couple have two children, a baby girl, Charlie, and a 2-year-old son named Brix, who adores the racing game at GameOn, though, Casey said, “He can’t reach the pedals, but he thinks he’s playing.”

GameOn Bar+Arcade Annapolis

114 West St, Annapolis. 410-885-4589. gameonbararcade.com

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GameOn Bar+Arcade Fed Hil

902 S Charles St, Baltimore. 410-885-4589.


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