It is the mission of Up-Down to create a safe, fun, and nostalgic entertainment experience that presents an alternative to the traditional bar scene and provides value to our guests, staff, partners, community, and industry.
Joey Akers – General Manager
Joey is General Manager of Up-Down Kansas City. He began working in the restaurant business with his childhood friend, Josh Ivey, at one of Rafe Mateer’s restaurants while completing his degree in Economics from the University of Iowa. After college, Joey moved to Kansas City for a position with Advanced Technology Solutions. After gaining years of experience in the corporate world, Akers was poached by Ivey to manage the second Up-Down location in Kansas City. Joey, his wife Emily, and their one year old daughter have relocated to the Central West End to become the General Manager of Up-Down St. Louis.
Josh oversees operations of all three Up-Down locations and is the driving force on the upcoming St. Louis location. Josh graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Psychology, even making a few appearances on the Dean’s List. When not studying, he was working for Mateer, learning the ropes in the restaurant/bar industry. Josh was quickly promoted to General Manager, before becoming the Managing Partner of Wooly’s live entertainment venue, which he co-owns with Mateer and Summers. After owning Wooly’s for two years, Josh was ready for his next project. He spearheaded the creation and development of the first Up-Down location in Des Moines and has gone on to successfully open four additional locations (Kansas City, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and St. Louis). Josh is passionate about business development, hospitality, and community involvement.
Sam has an extensive background in concert promotions that began back in high school. While earning his degree in Economics and Marketing from Iowa State University, he started his first concert promotion company: First Fleet Concerts. He was responsible for promoting a variety of shows ranging from intimate venues to areas throughout the Midwest. Sam was the primary booker for their live entertainment venue, Wooly’s. Five years ago Sam started his second company, SA Presents, and has booked Des Moines’ premiere summer concert series ever since. In 2014, Sam founded Hinterland, an outdoor music festival that draws approximately 20,000 people over three days to St. Charles, Iowa. He was a member of the East Village Board from 2012-2015. Sam specializes in brand growth and strategies pertaining to Up-Down.
Rafe manages the procurement and restoration of games for all Up-Down locations. He started in the restaurant industry while to pay his way through college at the University of Northern Iowa where he studied Business. Rafe served as the General Manager of three different restaurants to gain experience before purchasing his first restaurant. He has over two decades in the restaurant/bar business and has been mentoring Josh Ivey and Joey Akers for the past thirteen years. He currently owns Blue Moose Tap House, DC’s Sports Bar, and Fieldhouse in Iowa City, as well as being a partner with Ivey and Summers in Wooly’s and Up-Down’s five locations. When not restoring games for Up Down, you can find Rafe spending time at home with his children or traveling.
Here’s what the Media has to say….
“Up-Down seems to capture something we’ve abandoned in our modern world of cell phones and usernames… At Up-Down, it was different. There were people, and they were pretty nice folks… Up-Down gives you more than just old-school video games. They give you the entire old-school experience, but it’s modernized properly and put together in a way that should have you finding or trying something new every time you come back”
“Surgeon general warning: Your eyes are going to boggle out of your skull at Up-Down – well before you're trying to avoid the dive-bombing aliens high stages deep in "Galaga."
“It is a place where the memories are resurrected and made at the exact same time.”
“Much better than a typical arcade, Up-Down Milwaukee is filled with vintage games from decades past. Plus, it’s got a fully stocked bar. Oh, and did we mention it’s for adults only? Yeah, it’s basically an adult playground come to life.”
Letters From Our Current Neighbors
Improving Our Neighborhoods – Kansas City
Our Kansas City location was previously occupied by a hamburger concept. They were terminating their lease due to a tumultuous relationship with the landlord and disputes over maintenance issues. The location had tremendous value in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District, but had fallen into disrepair. It was widely considered an eyesore by neighboring businesses and art galleries.
Improving Our Neighborhoods – Minneapolis
Our Minneapolis location had sat vacant after most recently being home to a tattoo studio and shop offering psychic and tarot readings. The two spaces were seen as too small by most commercial tenants and were stalling the development of the block. The location had tremendous potential in the up and coming Lyn Lake neighborhood, but was widely considered to be one block off from the foot traffic that most businesses in the district would rely on.
We recognized the potential of the block and the opportunity to combine the two smaller spaces. We worked with a local architectural firm to create one larger space from the two spots. All interior walls in the dining area were removed to open up the space. The floor was taken out to allow the installation of all new plumbing to support the build out of a commercial kitchen and bar. Working with a local design firm and a local general contractor, we added the infrastructure necessary to create two patio spaces on the property. A custom bar and tap system was created for the space. Additional HVAC units were installed to provide year round comfort. The transformation of the building was a hit with the neighbors and community members. The additional foot traffic has led to almost the entire block being occupied by the end of our first year.
(It’s not your typical bar or arcade crowd)
Up-Down differentiates itself from other bars by providing an entertainment experience that serves as an alternative to the typical bar scene. From the time a guest walks in the doors, they are greeted with images and sounds that inspire nostalgic euphoria. We create an environment that allows professionals to take a break from their cares and worries while being surrounded by the sites and sounds that remind them of their youth. As a result, our patrons tend to be older, more established, and drawn to our selection of craft beers. Our emphasis on the details that make our guests feel safe, draws us praise from our female guests who make up over half of our Facebook fans. Up-Down is a bar run by professionals and for professionals.
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