A Labor of Love: New family-friendly sports bar opens in Corvallis

Photo by Danielle Jarkowsky

After more than three years of setbacks, planning, and labor, Corvallis’ first arcade-bar opened its doors on Sept. 25.

The Dam is a sports-themed arcade and bar. It is located in the former Sivetz Coffee building in downtown Corvallis, Ore.

“The building was condemned,” said owner Ben Metzger. “First we had to do a change of occupancy – it used to be a factory – to public occupancy.”

This triggered seismic upgrades, a sprinkler system installation, and a major water pipe installation under Fourth St.

Fortunately Metzger is also a general contractor. This helped him save money, as he did much of the work himself.

“I worked construction during the days, this place at night. It was a labor of love,” said Metzger.

Walking into The Dam is like walking into a miniature sports arena. A small basketball court complete with megatrons (really TVs) takes up the center of the room. Instead of actual basketball hoops, basketball nets hang from the lights.

A couple of custom cornhole sets are on the court. A clear-coated bar top covered in Metzger’s life-long sports trading card collection surround the outside of the court, while paintings of Portland Trailblazer, Seattle Mariner and OSU Beaver athletes cover the walls.

“The game-court is something no one else has,” said Metzger. “It’s not space dedicated to tables and chairs; it’s kinda insane. Here, the focus is on the games.”

Sean Kirkpatrick takes a break from bartending to play pinball. Photo by Danielle Jarkowsky

All of the creative work is Metzger’s. He made the bars, painted the artwork, and custom built some of the video games.“The [decorating] is not even halfway done. I have more Beaver players to [paint]. I did all of the sports art downstairs to keep consistency of style, but upstairs with the arcade art I am dying to have contributions from other artists,” he said.

Up the red-carpeted steps to the second floor, the first game you find is one of Metzger’s unique creations. It’s a sit-down Donkey Kong inside a whiskey barrel – inside a room full of more custom video games and pinball machines. Game of Thrones or Austin Powers, anyone? Yeah baby!

Now at eye level with the megatrons, you can look down on the court. Place your drink on another long trading card-covered counter. Visit the small tended bar tucked into a corner.

“This place offers something different. It’s a sports bar within an arcade with a full food menu,” said bartender Liz Arjavac. “The bar is all ages until 8 p.m. I can’t think of another bar in town you’d want to take your kids to,” said Arjavac.

The main bar has 12 revolving taps of popular Oregon beers, a small selection of canned beer, local wines, ciders, spirits, soda, and milk.

The menu has a variety of comfort foods, like nachos and BBQ chicken grilled cheese. It will also have milkshakes – regular and alcoholic versions – but cereal is the most unique item. Seriously: Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, and Cheerios boxes sit on the shelf behind the bar.

Over time, the menu and space will change.

“Right now we want to get people in, and we will make incremental improvements as we go,” said bartender Sean Kirkpatrick.

They have big plans for the future, like concerts and video game competitions.

“The court is a versatile space. We will hold a free corn hole league, and coming up on October 7 we have our first concert,” said Kirkpatrick.

Metzger and Kirkpatrick are designing unique games for the court, such as what they are calling putt-skee, a combination of putt-putt and skeeball, where you use a golf club to hit a ball up a ramp into holes that will light up when you score.

“It could be a great spot for live shows. It’s perfect for music,” said Landon Mattson, a first-time customer and OSU graduate.

At a Glance:

349 SW 4th Street, Corvallis, OR 97330
Hours: 11 a.m. – midnight
Facebook: thedamsportsarcade
Prices: Food $2 – $8, Milkshakes $6 -$10
Beers currently on tap: Double Mountain, Laurelwood, Wild Ride Brew, Boneyard, Calapooia
Featuring emcee Vursatyl Friday, October 7 at 8:30 p.m.

Story by: Danielle Jarkowsky


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