With Nintendo video game consoles to play, Air Jordan sneakers on display, and Snoop Dogg tracks on the stereo, Uptowns is every '90s kid's dream come true.
And that applies to owner Jerome O'Connor, who opened the small bar in Newcastle last month with friend and business partner, Sam Earp.
Creating a bar themed around '90s nostalgia began as a pipe dream for O'Connor. The musician, who has worked at bars around Newcastle over the years, never gave it much serious thought until he was convinced to take a walk-through of the space which, in previous incarnations, has been known as The Mercury Hotel and Crazy Horse.
"I have always had an idea of doing something like an arcade bar, but it was only ever a dream. It was just an idea that I had, like 'I want to be a fireman one day', you know what I mean?", O'Connor says with a laugh.
Together they spent six months working on the design and building the fit-out.
Walking down the stairs to the lower ground level bar, it's impossible to miss the colourful hand-painted mural of Will Smith circa his The Fresh Prince of Bel Air days.
The tribute to all things '90s doesn't end there.
Nineties hip-hop provides the soundtrack, VHS tapes line the front of the bar, original PlayStation consoles repurposed as light shades hang from the ceiling, and more than 2000 basketball cards plaster a section of the wall.
Nintendo game systems are set up at two tables, with old-school Mortal Kombat and Mario Kart, while a corner area has a mini basketball court floor design complete with a table made out of basketball hoops, chain link fencing and NBA live on TV (the space can be reserved for groups).
Even though 26-year-old Earp wasn't born until the early '90s (O'Connor jokingly points out that his business partner had never heard of Mortal Kombat), he went above and beyond to get the details in the space right. The colourful ceiling resembles the bricks from Tetris and the walls in the bathroom are covered with old adverts for Converse, Apple Macintosh and Game Boy.
Sneakers are a key part of the theme. As well as a sneaker-shaped neon light that hangs on the wall, the bar has classic sneakers and hi-tops on display in perspex cabinets. Each pair is displayed with a card that includes details about the shoe: the brand, year of manufacture and how much it's worth (most are valued at more than $1000).
Among the collection is every Air Jordan released during the 14 years that basketball superstar Michael Jordan played in the NBA.
Some of the sneakers are from O'Connor's personal collection, while others are on loan.
Uptowns opens every day from 11am (except Wednesday, which is from from 5pm). There are two toasties on the food menu (mac and cheese or spaghetti bolognaise, which have proved a big hit with customers already) and coffee is available during the day.
It is open until late each night, with DJs spinning '80s and '90s hip-hop on vinyl every Friday and Saturday evening.
"We wanted to cater for people watching basketball during the day and the coffee trade, because we've got great coffee from Glitch Coffee, and we are opening seven nights because we want to try to bring Newcastle back to life," O'Connor says.
The drink list includes beer such as Budweiser, Corona and Coors, along with a selection of wine by the glass, spirits and cocktails. O'Connor and Earp say they intentionally kept it simple.
"There's a lot of great cocktail bars in Newcastle already, so we set a small selection with five beers and nothing on tap. It's all bottles and cans. The cocktails we curated include two based around classic ice-blocks, Gaytime and Calippo," O'Connor says.
"People have said 'Oh, you'll need craft beers ...' but it's not the case. People are coming in for the vibe, so when those type of people come in, they just want to grab a Budweiser."
- Uptowns is located at 23 Watt Street, Newcastle.
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