Behind Bars: Ben Morgan at Old North Arcade

Erica Thompson

There have been some fun new additions at Old North Arcade in recent months. The arcade bar, located at 2591 N. High St., added a patio with picnic tables and new games like cornhole and giant Jenga. Patrons can also view classic films like "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" on the movie projector outside. Ohio State football games may also be shown this fall.

Then there are the new "Pokemon Go" phone-charging station and $4 Pokemon shots. You can order a Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur - or "catch them all" for $10.

But the most significant change is the bar's expansion into the building next door - formerly Cafe Bella - which will open to the public on Friday, July 29.

"We will be over 6,000 square [feet] once we open the new space, so we're more than doubling our size," said owner Ben Morgan.

The bar, walk-in cooler, office and bathrooms will remain where they are, while the new area will be a "pure, uninhibited gaming floor," he said.

The large collection of new games includes air hockey, skee-ball, "Dance Dance Revolution" and "X-Men," which took some effort to retrieve from the seller's basement.

"I don't know if the game somehow magically grew in the basement or [if] the door shrunk, but the game was wider than the door," Morgan said. "We literally had to take the frame off this guy's door to get it out."

Customers will also have access to a "huge console-gaming lounge with every Xbox, every PlayStation, every Nintendo and all the Sega [consoles]."

While the games will serve as interesting décor, the new space itself also has a lot of character. Prior to Cafe Bella, the approximately 100-year-old building operated as Fireside Loan and Savings.

"It has the ornate, hammered-tin ceilings, marble floors … [and] it's got these antique pumpkin bricks that we had to chisel plaster off to expose," Morgan said.

Although he has seen great success since opening Old North Arcade last year, there were many lessons learned, especially in making business agreements.

"No matter how much you trust the person, no matter how much history you have with them, always get everything in writing," he said.

Before he became a small-business owner, the East Side native studied psychology at Ohio State. He also played competitive poker, during which he'd happily lose track of time - a feeling his bar patrons know all too well.

"They get a little bit of a buzz and they start playing Mario Kart, and the next thing you know it's last call," he said.

In the near future, Morgan will have a massive mural added to the bar's outside wall, and he still has to figure out a use for the old bank vault in the new space.

"There's a pinball [machine] called 'Safe Cracker' we were thinking about putting inside of it, but we'll see," he said.