Chinatown Fair Arcade Reopening at 8 Mott Street!
When neighborhood businesses go belly-up, there isn’t always a groundswell of public mourning. Just a quiet passing with a gentle note from the owners. But after the beloved Chinatown Fair abruptly shuttered its home at 8 Mott Street exactly one year ago, gamers left their love for the mecca on the shuttered gates (“I fell in love with Bob here”; “Insert one soul here”) while others gathered on the adjacent stoop to play fantasy card games and handhelds. And they continue to do so. BUT NOW A REVIVAL IS REPORTEDLY AFOOT! The proverbial phoenix is arising from the ashes.
Independent filmmakers Kurt Vincent and Owen Strock, who are wrapping their documentary about the iconic institution (Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair), spotted workers delivering game cabinets back into the old Mott Street location earlier this week. The rumor on the street was that the gamer paradise was reopening. Former manager Henry Cen, who opened Next Level Arcade in Brooklyn after the closure, confirmed that some dude named Lonnie was behind the relaunch.
A group of men were moving some of the old games back inside. One of the men introduced himself as Lonnie. He told me they were hired to move in the games and empty the trash that remained inside. I spoke with Henry Cen, co-owner of Next Level and integral part of the old Chinatown Fair, and he told me a guy named Lonnie was reopening the arcade at 8 Mott Street.
Neither Cen nor longtime owner Sam have a hand in the reincarnated Chinatown Fair, slated to open as soon as next month. Interestingly enough, however, this Lonnie character once bartended at another city landmark – his uncle’s establishment, Max’s Kansas City.
Needless to say, this great news throws a wrench in the Arcade project. But totally worth it.