Flicker: Arcade & Bar, a safe place for fun


Quinten Sargent

Jessica Greninger, former Missouri Southern student is seen playing a racecar videogame at Flicker: Arcade & Bar located at 122 S Main St. in Joplin, Mo.

Quinten Sargent

In an effort to promote a safe space for people to come together. James and Kelsey Sowa have established Flicker: Bar & Arcade, a retro arcade bar located at 102 N Main St.

The Sowa’s moved to Joplin from Denver in 2017. As they became acquainted within the community, they decided that they wanted to run a business. Because of their roots and love for arcades, they decided on the idea of an arcade bar.

“He [James] was a big arcade game player, whereas I can remember my mom worked part time in an arcade in the 90s, so it’s very fundamental to both of us in very different ways,” said Kelsey.

Flicker offers a variety of arcade games from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Kelsey recalls regular customers who come into beat the high scores of Galaga. Although not your typical bar, customers range from college students to people into their mid-50s. 

“We were trying to get a wide audience from ages 21 through 55ish, so we tried to gather arcade games and décor elements that would be reminiscent to everyone.”

Not only is Flicker home to Space Invaders, Area 51 and CarnEvil, Flicker also hosts board game night on Sundays, Wednesday night karaoke, and a drag show every third Saturday. With their love for music, the Sowa’s have also made Flicker a place to showcase up and coming musicians.

“We really try to encourage new musicians to come on our stage,” said Kelsey.

Kelsey believes some genres of music don’t have a broad reception in many venues through the community, and often uses their space to showcase new artists. Flicker also welcomes musicians who have had trouble booking shows to take its stage.

The Sowa’s have had difficulties in getting the college aged demographic into Flicker, due to their liquor license limitations. Flicker at this time is not permitted to sell hard liquor, which they believe keeps some of the younger crowd from attendance.

“We are 21 and up except for Sundays so if you’ve got a mixed group of college kids that maybe one of them is 20, they don’t want to necessarily split up the group to come and visit,” said Kelsey.

Aside from not having hard liquor, Flicker serves Jones, Jolt, and Surge sodas as well as a variety of beers. In addition to beverages, Flicker has a variety of arcade food options.

From board games, food and karaoke, the Sowa’s believe that Flicker: Bar & Arcade is not just a bar, but a fun place for people from all backgrounds and ages to come together. 

“If you’ve been interested in coming to the arcade but haven’t made the plunge, just go ahead and give it a try,” said Kelsey. “Bring a handful of quarters and see what you think.”