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 two additional locations (Kansas City, and Minneapolis). 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.  He is about to embark on his biggest role yet. Sam and his wife, Brooke, are patiently awaiting the arrival of their first child this August.

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 three locations. When not restoring games for Up Down, you can find Rafe spending time at home with his two 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. LYNN FREEHILL-MAYE

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.” ALLIE MCDOWELL

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.” ANDREW GRUMKE

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.” PETE DULIN

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

“Before the opening of Up-Down KC, I probably would have said that bars aren’t really that unique, that even fun places like karaoke and piano bars are just gimmicky dives where the experience all leads to you buying booze. But Up-Down wasn’t a cashed-in experience, it had everything I could want from an arcade and a bar respectively, it’s an experience I can’t really get from sitting down and playing video games at home while pounding back a few beers. The Up-Down experience is a truly unique one and certainly one I recommend to bar-goers and video game fanatics alike.” JACOB GARR

Columnist, Central Missouri News

“A unique pairing is opening its doors Friday in the Crossroads district.  Up Down Bar is the metro’s first bar dedicated to vintage arcade games. The concept is the brainchild of three friends from Des Moines, Iowa.” KIM WOIRHAYE-REID

Reporter, KSHB NBC Kansas City

“To A Kansas City Entrepreneur, Up-Down Is Where We Go To Game.  Let’s not lie to ourselves – a lot of entrepreneurs like to game. Let’s continue to not lie to ourselves – we’re getting older than we care to give credit to. So where do we go to play video/arcade games whilst keeping true to our 80’s and 90’s roots? Up-Down Arcade Bar.”

Writer, BetaBlox

“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). ” JILLIAN YANISH

Associate Digital Editor, Minneapolis - St Paul Magazine

“At Up-Down, even the price is nostalgic. “One quarter per play,” Akers said.  If you opt for tokens, it’s 10 games for $1. The mood is half modern bar, with natural wood accents and an outdoor patio, and half time machine, complete with video screens featuring shows and movies of the time.” BETSY WEBSTER

News Reporter, KCTV 5 CBS

“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.” ADAM SCHAUMBURG

Community Manager, YELP! KC

“There’s a lot to love at Up-Down. Like pinball. I’ve yet to get a shot at Super Mario Bros. pinball or Space Jam pinball… there is always someone laughing it up and scoring big.” JENEÉ OSTERHELDT

Lifestyle Columnist, KC Star

“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” NICHOLAS UPTON

Writer, Food Service News

“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” JUSTIN KENDALL


“Go retro and relive your childhood on more than 40 arcade games from the ‘80s and ‘90s, pinball machines, three skee-ball alleys and more at Kansas City’s newest arcade bar with local graffiti art, Up-Down Kansas City. An adults-only arcade, pick your poison from an extensive list of craft brews or sip inspired cocktails, and be prepared to spend your week’s allowance at this nostalgia-inducing destination.” ALLYSON WILSON

Staff Writer, 435 Magazine

Our Neighborhoods

Kansas City
Crossroads Art District

Median household income: $63,945
Median house or condo value: $202,906
Median contract rent: $1,446

The Crossroads Art District is a vibrant arts and dining district most notable for the monthly First Friday celebration.  Within a block of Up-Down you will find the headquarters of Arts KC, the Crossroads gallery of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and restaurants from James Beard Nominated Chefs (Michael Smith’s and The Rieger Hotel).

LynLake Neighborhood

Median household income: $58,355
Median house or condo value: $246,210
Median contract rent: $787

The LynLake District is a cornerstone of the Minneapolis arts and LGBT communities.  Considered one of the city’s great economic success stories of the last ten years, LynLake has become a thriving mixed use neighborhood anchored by a wide variety of ethnic restaurants and high-end condominium development.

Des Moines
The East Village

Median household income: $36,699
Median house or condo value: $35,000
Median contract rent: $712

Sitting in the shadow of the Iowa State Capital, The East Village has long been a center of commerce and culture in Des Moines.  Up-Down is a prime destination for visitors after going to the Botanical Gardens or before attending a show at the Simon Estes Amphitheater in this historic district.


Improving Our Neighborhood -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 Neighborhood – 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 2018 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.