Games and Grub 

Bingo Beer Co. makes its debut with bar food, booze and old-school games.

click to enlarge Jason Alley, co-owner of Bingo Beer Co., embraces the idea of dining as entertainment.

Scott Elmquist

Jason Alley, co-owner of Bingo Beer Co., embraces the idea of dining as entertainment. 

It's part brewery, part restaurant, part arcade, all Richmond. Bingo Beer Co. just opened in Scott's Addition, and dream team Jason Alley and Michele Jones are behind it, along with partners Jay Bayer and Ted Ukrop. The new concept joins an ever-growing league of eateries with built-in entertainment, and Alley says that's no accident.

"Dining has shifted away from the whole idea that it's something you do before you do something else," he says. "Dining as entertainment is something that's really been a trend for a while now. What we're seeing is people want something to do that's going to occupy their time."

And there's no shortage of things to do exactly that. Inside the large warehouselike space, which used to be a bingo parlor, the lineup includes throwback games like Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the Simpsons. There's also skeeball, ping pong, air hockey and half a dozen pinball machines, plus oversized Connect Four.

To go along with the games is a menu with what Alley describes as playful bar food, like "tot-chos," or tater tots piled with queso, sour cream and pico de gallo. Other small plates include Indian butter chicken nuggets, a mash-up of two favorites that results in a crispy, dense, heavily spiced bite with charred-scallion and butter dipping sauce that's reminiscent of an Indian masala. The pickle plate will rotate, and a recent selection included classic dill spears plus dragon fruit, mushrooms, eggplant, onions and deviled eggs, all pickled. Hearty sandwiches include the Definitely Not Affiliated With a Major Corporate Rib Shaped Sandwich, a grilled tempeh grinder, grilled cheese and fried oysters with chow-chow, a pickled relish.

And because you really can have it all, let's not forget that this place is also a full-production brewery. Six beers are flowing from the taps for now, with a few more in the making. The flagship is the Bingo lager, and Alley says it appeals to the beer obsessed and the casual drinker alike.

"If you're a beer nerd you'll get into it because it's a little more hop-forward than a traditional Budweiser," he says. "But if you just like cold beer that's delicious, it's that too."

Also on draft are several cocktails, which Alley says allows creativity without the wait. The Level Up is refreshing with a little kick, featuring house-made hopped cucumber-lemon-grass tonic, also available on its own as a nonalcoholic mocktail, with your choice of gin, vodka, rum or tequila. With grapefruit-infused vodka and club soda, Another Castle is simple and easy to drink.

"For those drinks you don't necessarily want to watch someone stirring and muddling for 20 minutes," he says. "All that work goes into it, but it has gone in before we open the doors for service."

Oh, and most of the game machines feature cup holders, making it easier to multitask. S

Bingo Beer Co.
2900 W. Broad St.
Mondays - Fridays 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Saturdays - Sundays noon - 2 a.m.


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