Insert Coin: Couple Plans Retro Arcade-Bar in Downtown Centralia

Coming This Year:  Dan and Keli Coleman Hope to Become a Downtown  Centralia Staple


The clittering of coins dropping into a cabinet, warming hues of neon lights and the rhythmic and descending blips of the Pac-Man game.

Bring back memories?

It does for Dan Coleman. So much so that the retro gamer-turned property manager is planning on opening his own arcade-bar in downtown Centralia later this year.

Coleman, alongside wife Keli Coleman, both 39 and of Lacey, recently bought space at 309 N Tower Ave. and are currently working on renovating the downstairs portion to house their retro arcade-bar.

Their business, aptly-named Insert Coin, will feature about 100 cabinets of retro games, self-serve beer taps, liquor and ciders, food options and a kids area when it opens this June.

The Colemans say their vision for the establishment is to be a place that’s family-friendly but one that also caters to the older pinball wizards, cabinet aficionados and classic arcade gamers. 

“We’re hoping people have nostalgia … and then, for their children, you want to be able to bring your kids along with you and enjoy that whole nostalgia — the stuff you grew up on — but also have games there for them,” Dan Coleman said.

It was all about “Street Fighter II” and the original Nintendo Entertainment System for Coleman growing up as a youth in Springfield, Ohio. A local sandwich shop in one of his friend’s neighborhoods hosted some original cabinets, some pool tables and Coleman’s game of choice — “Samurai Shodown.”

“I had a $10 bill and then made change — I’d feel like the richest person in the world,” Coleman said. “And we would just play ‘Samurai Shodown’ until every quarter was gone.”

Coleman eventually grew up, but his love of video games remained. He joined the Air Force and met Keli while both of them were working in an administrative courthouse office.

Throughout that time, Coleman’s collection of classic video games grew, but the couple, who’ve been together for five years, had never thought of opening their own arcade.

That is, until February 2020.

Shortly before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the couple flew out to Salt Lake City to see family. They found their inspiration during a night out in the downtown area, located in a little basement with a banner that read “Quarters Arcade Bar.”

“I was just blown away,” Dan Coleman said of the revered arcade-watering hole.

“It was just so fun and it kind of inspired us,” said Keli Coleman. “And originally we wanted to open an arcade-base in Olympia just because we live there or Lacey. But we have multiple rental properties here in Centralia and we really like the area.”

The couple was at one of their many local rentals in Centralia last May when they saw the 111-year old North Tower building with its big leasing sign and recognizable “B’ Jays Bistro” sign out front.

“The closest arcade-bar is in Tacoma, so it seemed like a good halfway point between Portland,” Keli Coleman said.

The Lacey couple was able to negotiate a purchase with the owner and, as of just a few weeks ago, closed on the transaction.

Last summer, the couple spent countless hours on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and other online markets looking for cabinets and old-school games to purchase. Their cabinet count now stands somewhere near 100, fills up four storage units and includes such titles as “Donkey Kong 3,” “Skee-Ball,” the first two “Mortal Kombat” titles, “Super Pac-Man,” “Metal Slug,” “Centipede” and “Tetris.”

The Chronicle took a short tour Thursday of the work-in-progress Insert Coin. The building is split into two areas, with one side a former dining area that most recently was a Mexican restaurant and the other side a dance floor. They plan on repurposing the dance floor to house most of the cabinets and use the dining area as a combination restaurant-bar area.

A mezzanine area will serve as a birthday party area for children, who will be allowed inside the business until around 8 or 9 p.m. on days the business is open.

Gaming-themed cocktails will be available as well as food options including pizza and burgers. A self-serve craft beer wall will have 23 varieties on tap and the business also plans on having white and red wine available.

The Colemans say the long-term goal is to become a well-known establishment in a community they’re already heavily invested in.

“My take is we want to be another staple. You’ve got McMenamins, you’ve got O’Blarney’s, and you’ve got a few small shops that have been here a very long time — but just add to that. Hopefully, we’re another staple that people want to come off the beaten path, off the freeway and come down to downtown Centralia and just check it out,” said Dan Coleman.

Insert Coin is currently on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and other social media with a website coming soon.