Arcade bar planned for former Comedy Cafe building on Brady

Up-Down MKE will feature 1980s and 90s games and craft beer

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The former Comedy Café building on Brady Street could become a new arcade bar and restaurant.

Des Moines, Iowa residents Joshua Ivey and Sam Summers are planning to open Up-Down MKE at 615 E. Brady St.

Inside of Up-Down in Des Moines taken from Facebook page.

The two have filed a liquor license with the city of Milwaukee and plan on opening the bar in February.

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Ivey started Up-Down in 2011 in Des Moines. He has since expanded to Minneapolis and Kansas City.

According to its website, the bar features more than 40 arcade games from the 1980s and 1990s, pinball machines, skee-ball, Nintendo and Sega console gaming, life-size Jenga and connect four.

All games are 25 cents.

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The bar also boasts “an extensive craft beer selection with 20 beers on tap and even more bottles and cans, as well as ‘80s and ‘90s inspired cocktails.”

Ivey said he chooses his next location by going to cities and looking for a solid young professional base. He found that in Milwaukee.

“Ideally we want 25- to 40-year-olds who are out doing things,” he said. “This area of Milwaukee seems like it  definitely has that. I hope the deal goes through because I think this could be super if it is approved.”

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The Comedy Café moved from Brady Street, after nearly 30 years, to 1033 N. Old World 3rd St. in the summer of 2015.

Since then, the Brady Street building has been vacant. The building is still owned by Salvatore Safina, long-time owner of the Comedy Café. Ivey is planning on purchasing the building if the city approves his liquor license.

He’s hoping to be on the city’s Licences Committee agenda Sept. 12. Ivey would like to add onto the building and add an outdoor patio.

“We looked at this building three times and always through it was a great location, but too small,” Ivey said. “Finally, when we looked past its limitations we realized we could build it out. The location is the nexus of everything with all of the development going on around Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.”

Up-Down MKE is coming in at a time when the North Water Street area is becoming densely populated with new apartment buildings and businesses including the last phase of Mandel Group’s North End Project, The Rhythm apartments by New Land Enterprises and the redevelopment of the former Laacke & Joys building that includes Bader Rutter’s headquarters.

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