It took an eager, wide-eyed boy to assemble the game lineup at Fuzion, the new family entertainment complex that opened this week in Huntington Beach.
That boy exists inside a 38-year-old man, but there you have it.
General manager Alfred Sims, who has previously opened venues for Namco Entertainment in the United States and Puerto Rico, tapped into his childhood favorites to build Fuzion's arcade. Monday afternoon, "Pac-Man," "Fire Ball" and others lined the dimly lit confines at 7227 Edinger Ave.
"It was fun," Sims said as machines beeped, clanged and flashed colors around the mostly unpopulated room. "I think, as adults, we still have that inner kid in us too that we want to come out."
Not many kids of any kind had come out midway through Fuzion's first day of business, but such are Monday afternoons in March. This weekend, Fuzion — a revamped version of Endless Food & Fun, the similar entertainment complex that resided in the same spot until it closed a year ago — will hold its official grand opening, and if the room resounds with the ambience of clattering quarters and popping wine corks, Sims and his team will know they have a hit.
Fuzion doesn't offer the only arcade in Huntington Beach, or even the only one in the surrounding neighborhood. Nickel! Nickel!, which features a wide array of games, is practically across the street, and Chuck E. Cheese's resides just to the north. And the new restaurant, whose menu ranges from Thai pasta to burgers to specialty pizzas, is far from the only eclectic place to eat around Bella Terra.
Still, chief executive Keeli Scott Lisack believes that the venue is unique for how many demographics it brings together in a few adjoining rooms. While kids play Lazer Tag in one of the two themed rooms (jungle and neon graffiti) or queue up for joysticks, adults can relax in the relative quiet of the restaurant or browse the beer and wine list.
And while the banquet rooms may not be every sexagenarian's idea of a party location, Lisack recently was approached by a man who hoped to throw a 60th-birthday bash at Fuzion.
"We kind of run the gamut of all the age groups, because we can do the kids, we can do the young adults, and we can do the older adult groups," she said. "So it's kind of a mix. That's a little bit of where the name Fuzion really came from."
In addition to the restaurant and games, the venue sports four banquet rooms and the Surf City Comedy Club, which occupies a side room and boasts its own sign facing the street. Pierside Gallery contributed artwork for the restaurant and lobby, while Huntington Beach artist Mike Silva provided a mural by the entrance and painted the Lazer Tag areas.
This weekend, Fuzion will celebrate its grand opening with a three-day promotion; visitors can print out $20 video game vouchers at http://www.experiencefuzion.com and use them Friday through Sunday. The venue's official ribbon-cutting was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Marce Bolanos, the manager of Nickel! Nickel!, said he doesn't view the new business as competition because his arcade lures a slightly different crowd. Often, he said, parents bring their children and then find themselves playing "Pac-Man," "Frogger" and the other free games at the end of the room, if only for nostalgia's sake.
"We tend to cater to a little bit older than Chuck E. Cheese's all the way up to people who would go to a place like Fuzion, so we try to kind of keep it more family-oriented in here," Bolanos said. "As far as competition, you know, we're running on nickels here, so it's kind of a different concept."
A tale of three arcades
When Fuzion opened Monday, its competition was waiting for it. Within a few stoplights are Nickel! Nickel! and Chuck E. Cheese's. All three feature an array of arcade games, plus a redemption counter where winners can exchange tickets for prizes. How to choose one? Here's the rundown on each:
Address: 7227 Edinger Ave.
Year founded: 2014
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
Special features: Surf City Comedy Club, Lazer Tag
Top prize at the redemption counter: Hamilton Beach Espresso Maker
Information: (714) 377-7671 or http://www.experiencefuzion.com
Address: 7454 Edinger Ave.
Year founded: 1996
Hours: 1 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 1 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays
Special features: Arcade machines that take nickels, plus about two dozen free consoles (though you still have to pay $2 to enter)
Top prize at the redemption counter: PlayStation 3
Information: (714) 847-2191 or http://www.nickelnickelhb.com
Chuck E. Cheese's
Address: 15511 Edwards St.
Year founded: 1977 (corporation)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Special features: Those singing animatronics onstage (come on, they serenaded you at least once!)
Top prize at the redemption counter: Zippy Mat Dance & Play Keyboard
Information: (714) 891-4391 or http://www.chuckecheese.com