Two Bits is not your typical Demonbreun bar.
Squeezed between Tin Roof and Dawg House Saloon, its blue sign and a brick-sized Jenga game show you the way to go.
Walking through its front doors is like taking a stroll down memory lane. It’s like waking up at age 13, playing Mario Kart and yelling at friends, cousins, neighbors, and – sometimes – yourself.
The bar/restaurant, open since January, offers board, arcade and video games, old and new, to its customers.
From the same owners of Tin Roof, Two Bits was a way to expand the company with a fresh, innovative idea.
“Our CEO, Bob Franklin, decided to create it from the concept of public arcades in the country,” said manager Sammy Shaw.
Inside its exposed brick walls, screaming customers playing Battlefield and 007 share the space with old-schoolers playing games such as NFL Blitz, Ms. PacMan and Space Invaders.
A large shelf filled with games sits to the left of the main doors. Customers can choose from Monopoly, Guess Who, Connect Four, Chess, Checkers, Candyland and many others.
The booths and built-in TVs are equipped with both vintage and state-of-the-art consoles. Nintendo 64. Xbox 1 and Playstation 4. Atari and Sega Genesis. You name it, they have it.
Aside from games, the menu plays a major role.
“The focus is on the food and drinks, including 24 draft beers,” Shaw said.
Executive chefs Will Zuchman and Rachel Canon, as well as cocktail consultant Alan Kennedy, developed and improved the menu from its paper version to the final, full choice menu.
The draft beers travel through a 140-foot-long cooling system from the back of the restaurant to their final destination: the customer’s glasses. More than half of the options come from local breweries.
Aside from the drafts, the restaurant’ staff also creates its own housemade drinks and cocktails.
One example is the Wrecking Ball.
“We make our own cinnamon whiskey,” said Shaw.
The drink, Canadian whiskey cooked with cinnamon sugar, is made on site at Two Bits. The idea for the name came from an attempt to honor chef Rachel Canon, and it was first baptized as Canon Ball. The title didn’t work well, and with the success of Miley Cyrus’ song it became “Wrecking Ball.”
“Every time the song plays, the drink is cheaper for everyone,” said Shaw.
The “Wrecking Ball event” lasts the duration of the song’s music video.
A half naked Barbie doll, seated on a handmade wrecking ball, bounces from the ceiling, while the real Miley Cyrus sings on the TV screens.
Whenever the Barbie doll drops, so does the price of the drink.
“We also have one drink called the picnic basket, served in a honey bear bottle,” said Tawny Martin, one of the servers in the restaurant, who finds many uses to the little bear-shaped container.
“I also use those for kids’ sodas,” Martin said. “Or if somebody spills their water, I’ll put it in a honey bear and tell them to behave,” she laughed.
The food is described as “upscale, eclectic bar food with a twist.” Bacon popcorn, charred octopus salad and feta covered fries are just some of the exotic options for the customers.
“People are definitely surprised when they see our menu. We use top quality ingredients. We try to keep everything as local and fresh as possible,” said Martin.
While management and staff focus on quality drinks and food, free access to the video games is, still, one of the main attractions for customers.
“It makes it cooler,” said Shaw. “People don’t need to get quarters with the bartenders all the time, you don’t need them, it’s just all free.”
With its easy and simple dynamic, Two Bits attracts people from Nashville as well as out-of-towners.
“A few out-of-towners came to visit and my friend thought that Two Bits would be something different to try. This place did not disappoint. We had a blast and I have been back a few times since then,” said customer Stacey Brodowski.
Two Bits’ game collection comes from Ebay, local stores and mainly Shaw’s personal stash. On Saturday night, the demand for the booths and arcade games is intense.
“Some of the young professional males get a little competitive about the NFL Blitz,” said Shaw. “It takes them back to those college days, I think.”
On top of the screaming men in suits and large groups in the booths, the background music is eclectic, but upbeat.
Music videos, including Blink 182 and other teenage bands, bring back the memories of high school and video game afternoons.
“We try to keep it fun all the time. We want people to feel comfortable here,” said Shaw.
While on weekends the college and young adult audience prevails, during weekdays the main crowd is families with kids. Some of the children can’t even reach the cabinet games.
“We have a lot of little nuggets running around,” said Martin.
With the successful feedback of the Nashville crowd, Two Bits is already set to get its first physical improvement.
“We’re working on doing an expansion on the next three or four months for more booths and video games,” said Shaw.
The future plans also include trivia nights, video games tournaments and knowledge classes from local beer brewers.
It’s all about making the place interesting for everyone while maintaining the unique “barcade” experience in town.
“We don’t want to be just another bar, another restaurant, another video game place,” said Shaw, “We are not your typical Demonbreum bar.”