Joystick has just opened in the centre of Prague and is the first video games bar in Czech Republic to serve up old school arcade machines, pinball machines and quality draft and craft beers. Founded and setup by friends Patrik Fiala (pictured right) and Tomáš Barth (left), the duo have spent almost three years turning their dream into a reality. We managed to catch up with the co-owner Patrik for an insight into the long journey which all started with his love of video games.
Why did you decide to make a video games bar?
Because we love bars and videogames! In general, we were just kind of bored with our corporate jobs and wanted to spend time on a project that would actually be ours instead of selling our time to another company for the rest of our lives. The idea of opening a bar came a long time ago, but we needed an original and fun concept. Two years ago we visited the big arcade games museum in Cerveny Ujezd and it was just an awesome experience for someone like me who had spent their youth playing those video game machines with friends. Also the arcade machines look great and we have a love of everything retro in general. We then found out about other similar places in America where they have Barcade (Barcade is a chain of bars in the United States that feature a combination of classic arcade games and draft beer) and others that were a great success and it was decided.
How long has the process taken from the idea to the opening last month?
It took about 2.5 years or thereabouts.
What was the hardest challenge you faced with this bar and how did you overcome it?
The hardest challenge was definitely finding the right venue. We needed something big for all the machines to fit in but at the same time we needed enough space for a bar. And the biggest problem was that we also wanted it to be located in the city centre and the prices are just so high here. In the end, we just got very lucky and found this incredible place. It was in a terrible condition and in need of a huge reconstruction to make it work. Seriously, if we knew what we were getting into maybe we wouldn’t be here today! But we got a great deal on rent if we were able to reconstruct the place, so, we took it.
What was the hardest lesson you learnt with this business?
Everything is more complicated and costs more money than you might think. Also, people don’t behave like you want or expect them to and if you want something done right, its better to do it yourself.
What part of your business are you most proud of?
I am just proud of it in general, that we took it from an idea all the way to running this incredible place.
What is unique about your business?
Its the only Arcade bar in Czech Republic where you can play on those really “old school” machines and enjoy great beers at the same time.
Did you like video games when you were a child?
Yes I loved them. I grew up on PC games like Prince of Persia, Lemmings, Wolfenstein, Civilization etc before I started playing console games. It was really great time for a gamer because everything was so new and awesome.
What is your favourite video game of all time?
This question is really hard to answer, there are many games that mean a lot to me for a different reasons and it is impossible to pick just one favourite. But if I had to mention one it would be original Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega Megadrive console.
Why is it your favourite?
Its like the ultimate arcade game – it has cool main character, wonderful graphics, great soundtrack and its so fast and so fun to play. It was the basic game that everyone got free with their new Sega console but at the same time it is one of the greatest titles that made the company famous.
What are your plans for the future?
Getting more arcade machines and flippers (pinball machines), start organizing tournaments and just keep improving Joystick to make is as cool as we can.
Any advice for young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business like you?
Don’t try to do everything on your own. Get good advice from someone who already did it or tried, and if they failed, find out why. Think about everything but don’t let anyone’s doubts keep you back. Work only with people you can really trust.
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