If you’re a gamer living in Ireland then chances are you more than likely already know about The R.A.G.E. Operating out of Fade Street in Dublin. They’ve been purveyors of quality vinyls and retro games since 2010, and announced in March that they would be opening a bar/restaurant/arcade called Token in May. While this is great news in itself, it’s also a first for Ireland, so I dropped them a line to see if I could get a few words to mark the occasion. As it turned out they were happy to oblige! The results are below.
- The R.A.G.E. has been open for seven years, and by now it feels like an integral part of the gaming scene here in Ireland. Did you ever envision this back when it started?
Haha, Not at all! I still can’t believe that it’s been seven years! Back when I first opened the doors to The R.A.G.E., I was happy enough just to be covering the rent and the bills! The support from the gaming community was incredible from day one, and although really difficult to source a lot of the consoles and games, the smiling faces and “Oh my God’s” really inspired me to make it the best shop I possibly could. After a couple years passed, the shop grew and we assembled a team. We were very happy with how The R.A.G.E. was performing and wanted to try and take things in a new, yet similar direction.
- And with regards to Token, was this move a direct response to the positive feedback from the gaming events you had been hosting previously? Or were there any similar set-ups that you saw abroad and thought “This. This is something we need back home.”?
It was a bit of both, to be honest. The gaming events were so much fun, and the turnout was always beyond our expectations. Continuously hearing “you guys NEED to do this more often” was incredible, however the flipside of that was that most of the times we held an event we would come away from it with our costs exceeding whatever we took in, and the venue would be the one that would profit most from it. We really wanted to do monthly events, but we just couldn’t afford to put it together with the same level of detail (trophies, winner’s jackets, etc.). The summer of 2014 I took a trip around the southern USA, and I went to a few arcade bars on my travels, purely because I love pinball and there are a few arcade games that are VERY close to my heart. The venues I visited were doing a lot of things right, however I also felt that they could also be improved upon. At that point I didn’t feel it was realistic for us to open something like Token, however we began to research extensively and by chance located the building on Queen St. in April 2015 with no solid plan in motion. It was pretty risky as we signed a long term lease for the building, and two-thirds of the ground floor was designated as a CAR PARK!! It’s been a very long and complicated process, but we all know seeing the doors open will be totally worth all the ups and downs.
- You’re boasting an impressive opening selection of cabinets (listed here), was it a challenge getting your hands on them? Are there any gems in the collection that you’re particularly proud of?
Thanks! It was definitely a challenge getting them and involved a lot of trust as we bought each machine from different individuals from various parts of Europe and the USA. Some were in a lot rougher shape than was described and we’re still refurbishing some of them to get them 100%. For me, I’m most proud of the pinball machines. Twilight Zone, Medieval Madness, Theatre of Magic, are top tier machines and we’ve refurbished them to such a high level.
- What are everyone’s favourites?
It really is impossible to determine favourites at this point, because all the machines are in storage during the build. We miss them! Personally, I’m a bit biased as basically I bought all my favourite machines.
- I’m pretty excited for the eating competitions, how sadistic are we talking though? Will we need a healthcare professional on-hand?
The eating competitions will be either speed challenges, heat challenges, or quantity challenges. Speed challenges will be eat x amount of x in 5 minutes. Heat challenges will consist of eating a series of dishes that get spicier and spicier, to pretty insane levels, similar to a chilli pepper challenge. Quantity challenges will be Mortal Kombat style – FINISH IT. Participants will have to sign a waiver.
- With regards to the brewery takeovers, are there any that you can tell us about lined up currently?
So far we’ve talked with White Hag, Founders, Yellow Belly, and we’re quite close to a lot of other Irish brewers. We’re pretty excited to have the actual brewers on hand to answer questions and give insight deeper than flavour profiles and taster notes. The process is fascinating, and we have a genuine interest in not only the finished product, but also how the brew is put together.
- The feedback has been huge right off the bat, with nearly 3,000 Facebook likes in the space of a day! How has it been for the team seeing such a positive response?
It’s been pretty wonderful to see people as enthusiastic as we are. In the R.A.G.E. people are asking about Token on a daily basis, and the excitement is pretty huge. We’ve kept a few elements secret and we can’t wait to see people’s faces when they see what we have in store in the venue.
- It’s early days yet, but what happens next? Any thoughts as to making a chain if it goes well, or is this a one-off labour of love?
What happens next is we get the doors open and try to fine-tune the operation as much as possible. For us, we want to get the customer experience as perfect as possible for Token Smithfield. We’re really not thinking far beyond that at all. If we were to do it somewhere else, the process would be a little bit easier, however I think we’re along way away from expansion of any kind.
- Finally, can I have my birthday there?
Yes, unless it’s before May 18th.
Fortunately for me, it’s in September!