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This Raleigh arcade bar is closing to make way for a new cocktail spot

Patrons enjoy drinks at Level Up Kitchen + Barcadium in Raleigh in 2015. Level Up will close this fall and become cocktail bar The Merchant, also from owner Local Icon Hospitality.
Patrons enjoy drinks at Level Up Kitchen + Barcadium in Raleigh in 2015. Level Up will close this fall and become cocktail bar The Merchant, also from owner Local Icon Hospitality. jhknight@newsobserver.com

Bar arcade concept Level Up will close this fall and transition into a new cocktail bar called The Merchant.

Level Up opened in 2015 above sandwich shop Linus and Peppers and Virgil’s Taqueria, part of a trend of bars with retro video game and pinball machines.

All are owned by Local Icon Hospitality, which also owns Little City Brewing near Glenwood South.

Local Icon owner Jon Seelbinder said the group is still working on the timeline for the change, but Level Up will wind down soon. Then after a brief renovation, The Merchant will open on the building’s expansive second floor.

The sandwich shop and taqueria will be unaffected by the changes, Seelbinder said.

Level Up closes just as the bar-arcade concept seems to be picking up steam. More in the spirit of bar games than the casino-sized-scale of Dave & Busters, Raleigh is home to the popular drinks and game spot Boxcar Bar+Arcade in downtown’s Warehouse District, with another location headed to Durham. The Bull City location of Beer Study also has a sizeable collection of games in addition to several dozen beer taps.

The Baxter is Chapel Hill’s version of bar-arcade, with an ‘80s vibe.

Seelbinder said it didn’t seem to work on their block of South Salisbury Street.

“It’s a great concept, but it takes a certain kind of space,” Seelbinder said. “You kind of need to spread out in a big flat space to do it right.”

This era of craft cocktails shows no signs of letting up. The new farm-to-cocktail spot Kingfisher is under construction in Durham and underground, member’s-only speakeasy the Atlantic Lounge should open this year beneath Crawford & Son.

With The Merchant, Local Icon is getting into the game.

“It’s a hell of a concept; we’ve wanted to do one for about four or five years,” Seelbinder said.

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