The Red Barron ruled Dubuque's Kennedy Mall during the 70s with its loft of pinball machines and an array of arcade games. By the early 80s, video games became slightly more sophisticated and ubiquitous at grocery stores and gas stations around town.

 

I pumped half my paper route money into the Donkey Kong located at the entrance of Save-U-More, or what is now Natural Grocers, located in Asbury Square. 

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Like many kids of the era, I would probably have qualified as a "Mall Rat." But mostly, I was an arcade kid. So much so that I befriended the gal working at what was then Aladdin's Castle. She would allow me in the office and let me fill my pockets with tokens, so I was able to spend hours perfecting my Pac-Man playing skills for free.

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Those were simpler times, and video games provided a fun escape, albeit not fancy by today's standards.

 

So, fast forward a few years, or are those decades? Learning that Dubuque has an arcade bar located in the Millwork District was like hearing Def Leppard in my ear pods. 

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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I decided to swing by Backpocket Arcade & Taproom to see how far $10 would go on a late afternoon. Turns out pretty far. Upon learning about their Happy Hour offering $2.50 drafts from 4-6 pm, I ordered an IPA.

 

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Then, I proceeded to their subterranean arcade to spend some quarters and step back in time.

 

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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My Donkey Kong skills were rusty but strong enough to advance to the third round with elevators.

 

Packpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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I didn't see an original Pac-Man, but Ms. Pac-Man was doing her thing with ghost pals Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde.

 

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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The pinball machines were challenging but fun also. The games cost .50 per credit, but that seemed reasonable considering four decades of inflation.

 

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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They even have Skee-Ball, which is always a fun diversion.

 

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Classic games like Galaga and Space Invaders have survived well into the 21st Century.

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Every legit arcade has a foosball table.

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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And an old school hockey game.

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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A great selection of brews in an old warehouse makes Backpocket a great gathering spot or perfect solo respite on a chilly spring day in Dubuque.

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Bar Manager Alicia shared that she loves working there because of the "fun and friendly" atmosphere. No doubt. There are two outdoor gas firepits, and they'll be rolling out the corn hole games someday soon. 

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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This June, Backpocket celebrates five years in Dubuque and ten in Iowa City.

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I may be beyond spending half my paper route money on video games, but I'll bee baaack to Backpocket someday soon.

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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Backpocket Brewing is located in Dubuque's Millwork District at 333 E 10th St.

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Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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For more information, visit backpocketdubuque.com

Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
Backpocket Arcade Taproom. Photo Credit: Keith B./Townsquare
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