Our Mission

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.

The Partners

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 Ivey

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 Summers

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 Mateer

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….

(The) basement bar, now two years old, stokes childhood nostalgia for both Gen-Xers and millennials, with synthesizer-heavy ’90s pop backing the real soundtrack of constant beeping from games. The roughly 40 vintage arcade games — including Donkey Kong, Tetris and Back to the Future — cost a quarter. Each has a cup holder for local beers or mixed drinks.

Travel Writer, New York Times

“This is the perfect date for any game­loving duo. Here you’ll find an amazing selection of old­-school arcade games from the ‘80s and ‘90s like PacMan, Mario, and Paperboy. If you’re not a fan of the arcade games, don’t worry. They have have several pinball games, three classic skee­ball alleys, Nintendo and Sega console gaming, and life­size jenga and connect four.”

Blogger, Visit KC (KCCVB)

“This arcade bar will make you feel like you’ve just gained an extra life.  It offers more than 50 arcade games — Including classics from the ’80 and ’90s, Nintendo console ganes, skee-ball and life-size jenga — and more than 50 beers on tap.  If you’re into craft beers, keep an eye on this place.  It often has some looked-over rare treats at a steal.”

Staff Writer, Kansas City Business Journal

“A positive, youthful feeling inspired by retro decor plays well with the innocence of arcade games to produce a fun vibe. “Nostalgia puts people in a comfortable place,”  Ivey says. Up-Down presents a dynamic option for fun that complements surrounding restaurants, bars, retail shops, galleries, performing arts and live music throughout Downtown.”

Freelance Author, Feast Magazine

“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”


Writer, Minnesota Skinny

“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."

Matt Mueller

Culture Editor, OnMilwaukee

“It is a place where the memories are resurrected and made at the exact same time.”

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

Author, CBS Minnesota

“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.”

Daniella DiRienzo

Author, Only In Your State

“And the best part—Up-Down is for everyone (that is, everyone who’s 21+). Whether you have a love affair with ‘80s arcade games or have just dabbled in the Atari video games at your Uncle Richard’s house, there’s a game worth your quarter at Up-Down (yes, every game is a token, equivalent to 25 cents). “

Associate Digital Editor, Minneapolis - St Paul Magazine

“For a nerdy, aging millennial, it’s a dream come true that all started with a little video game escapism for the owners, Rafe Mateer, Josh Ivey and Sam Summers”

Writer, Food Service News

“Any Kansas Citians who spent their youth in arcades are bound to find love at first sight at UpDown KC. This new Crossroads bar and arcade combo has all the nostalgia and games you could imagine, topped off with an impressive beer selection.”

Community Manager, YELP! KC

“Hopefully everyone who is interested in this will show up and support this new business, not only with your time, but by spreading the word as well! This is pretty awesome for Kansas City and gamers in general, I mean, what’s not to like about alcohol and games?”

Writer, Gaming Plus

“More than 50 popular games in the ’80s and ’90s fill every nook and cranny if the arcade bar. By design, the atmosphere replicates the cramped feel of an arcade parlor at a shopping mall.”

Freelance Authour, Recommended Daily

“For years, pinball and classic video games like Pac-Man held a special spot in American culture. But by the early 2000s, it was hard to find many arcades still open for business.  But that’s changing with the rise of the arcade bar, a craze that Kansas City is just now getting in on.”

Reporter, KCUR 89.3

“We’re big fans of Up-Down, which took over the former Hamburger Mary’s space in April, bringing us video games (Crazy Taxi!), giant Jenga and Connect Four, pinball (FIFA!), skeeball, craft beer”



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.


We signed a 10 year lease on this property and immediately went to work.  We worked with a local architectural firm on a completely new design for the interior of the space.  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 fix lingering issues that plagued the previous tenants.  Working with a local design firm and a local general contractor, we added a mezzanine level in previously underutilized space.  A custom bar and tap system was created by local craftspeople.  Additional HVAC units were installed to provide year round comfort.  A second patio area was added to the front of the building and the rooftop patio was completely remodeled.  Over a quarter of a million dollars was invested in creating a modern, open space that is a cornerstone of the neighborhood.



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.


Our Fanbase

(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.


Social Media Reach

Facebook Fans

Twitter Followers

Instagram Followers

By Gender





By Age


21 - 24


25 - 34


35 - 44




Supporting Our Community

In each consecutive year our charitable giving has grown. In 2019 Up-Down raised over $75,000 for local community organizations. In addition to hosting monthly fundraisers for local non-profit organizations, we have become a hub of activity for events like rooftop yoga and pet adoption events.