BIG CITY VIBES: Reboot Social Will Offer Food, Drinks, and Arcade Adventures

grown-up arcade slated to open Sept. 2 in downtown Eau Claire

McKenna Scherer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

SETTING THE BAR. Reboot Social, an arcade, bar, and restaurant fusion, will be opening its doors to the public on Sept. 2 in downtown Eau Claire.
SETTING THE BAR. Reboot Social, an arcade, bar, and restaurant, will open its doors to the public Sept. 2 in downtown Eau Claire.

Ready Player One? Downtown Eau Claire’s Reboot Social, which has been all the buzz around town for months, is ready to provide culinary and arcade adventures.  Starting Sept. 2, you will be able to enjoy the big-city vibes of a multi-level arcade, bar, and restaurant on the corner of South Barstow Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Eau Claire. 

Co-owned by Charlee Markquart, Ryan Warffuel, Ian Prock, and Max Koehler, the team is well experienced in running businesses as well as working with each other already thanks to previous ventures, including Eau Claire-based production company Antic Studios. Executive Chef John Bender has more than 20 years of professional experience as a chef under his belt plus managerial and business expertise. While the adult-focused arcade has grabbed attention, the restaurant is potentially Reboot Social’s secret weapon, sure to surprise many with its intentionally curated menu. 

Having connected organically through mutual relationships, Bender got in touch with Warffuel and Prock, fully onboarded by April to begin crafting a menu that meshed well and made sense for Reboot. “(We wanted) something very shareable, very friendly, and approachable,” Bender explained. “Trying to take ‘bar food’ and really elevate it.” 

Full-service bars are available on the main and basement levels, the kitchen resting on the main floor on the edge of the lounge-style seating area. The menu is as impressive as the space itself: Everything from half-pound loaded French fry variations (cheese jalapeño, Korean BBQ, truffle, and more) to Nashville hot chicken, tempura cheese curds, a dessert section, and in-house sauces like chili garlic and Thai peanut. The food is made to complement the style of Reboot overall.

Until recently 220 S. Barstow St. was home to the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, but now it will host a different kind of fun: In addition to nearly 50 pinball and arcade games – including Austin Powers, Space Jam, Rick and Morty, and Addams Family pinball machines – there is also a duo Guitar Hero setup, pool, car racing games, and a space for people to sit and play Mario Kart in front of a TV. 

And don’t forget the duckpin bowling lanes tucked into the back of the first floor. “(Duckpin bowling) isn’t like miniature or regular bowling since the pins are a little different. It’s like this cool, novelty version,” Warffuel explained.

“Our pinball collection is really, really good,” added Warffuel, whose love of vintage gaming is the root of Reboot’s concept. Prock explained that years of research went into the collection. “We did a lot of curating and research for about two years, buying from private sellers and just seeking out every exact game that we wanted, and ensured we got them.” 

Warffuel’s favorites include the new Mandalorian pinball machine, which he thinks will be popular due to its fun playfield, plus Ninja Turtles: Two Turtles in Time, while Prock also highlighted their “shooter games” like Silent Scopes. 

Familiar favorites like Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man, and more join the fray, too, with every game available to those who buy tokens to play. Instead of lugging along pockets full of quarters, people can purchase tokens from machines throughout the space, either one at a time or by the handful. 

“We’re really excited to bring a new form of entertainment,” Prock said. “An all-in-one place where you can still socialize and get something to drink instead of just sitting in a bar. Other cities have similar concepts, and we felt like it was time for it in Eau Claire.”

The drink menu also will be expansive and feature rotating specialty drinks that align with the theme of Reboot, some even being themed after certain games, Bar Manager Krystal Williams said. Alongside domestic beers on tap and traditional cocktails, mocktails will also be offered. 

Though many businesses across various industries have been struggling to gain and retain staff for years, Reboot currently has around 50 employees on their team since beginning hiring roughly a month ago. 

Upon initial opening, the only part of the space that won’t be open to the public will be its third floor, which will still be undergoing some remodeling and decorating, and will ultimately be a banquet area or private space that can be reserved.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 2, Reboot Social will be open every day of the week. From Sunday-Wednesday hours will be 11am-11pm, while Thursday-Saturday hours will be 11am-bar close unless it’s slow enough to close at 11pm. Until 8pm, the space will be open to all ages, but afterward it will be strictly 21+.

Head over to Reboot Social’s website to learn more and keep up with them on Facebook (@therebootsocial) and Instagram.