Retro arcade games, local craft beer and a music jukebox are the trio Downtown Pomona’s Paradox Arcade and Bar is offering for those 21 and older.  

At the corner of Thomas and Fourth streets, large glass panel windows reflect the glistening beams coming from within the arcade and bar, with rows of retro games lined up back-to-back.

A vivid mural painted by local artists greets all who enter with a variety of figures in neon green, red and blue dancing off the wall where the projector screen shows a selection of classic films daily.

Near its four-month anniversary, the Paradox Arcade was a dream envisioned not too long ago by Evelina and Sabrina Gamboa, the married couple who own the blast-from-the-past retro joint.  

Over 24 arcade games, various pinball machines, and a selection of game boards and the classic console, can be played Thursday to Sunday evenings at varying times.    

Keeping it traditional, all arcade games and pinball machines are quarters-only to play. 

“It’s been a crazy joy ride,” Evelina said. “I still don’t believe it and ask myself is this really happening, are we really going to our bar and opening up the doors?”

Keeping it classic, all games are a quarter and pinball machines are 50 cents a game. (Jessica Araujo / The Poly Post)

Before owning their own bar, the couple often visited local breweries. One of their favorites was Cal Poly Pomona’s Innovation Brew Works, where they often spent hours hanging out.

Going from brewery to brewery, they realized they could offer a location where adults could hang out, play games and have drinks. 

While working on their drink lineup, they knew one local brewery they wanted to include was Innovation Brew Works. 

“We hadn’t seen their beer anywhere else,” Evelina Gamboa said. “We reached out not knowing if they would be willing to distribute and they agreed. We couldn’t believe we were going to be one of the local areas serving their beer.”

Owner Evelina Gamboa fills a glass with beer distributed by Innovation Brew Works. (Jessica Araujo / The Poly Post)

Both Pomona residents consider the thriving location a mom-and-pop shop that was designed with the locals and Downtown Pomona’s ambience in mind. 

Customers are encouraged to have an open dialogue and the Gamboas enjoy any feedback given about what games people would like to see or drinks they would like to consume.

Inside the arcade and bar, the Paradox’s floating draft beer faucets holding up to 16 taps were designed to resemble the Mario Brothers’ game pipes. 

The idea was a design Evelina dreamed of achieving and is often a crowd visual favorite. 

First-time customer and CPP food science and technology alumnus Rob Guzman (‘18) opted to wait for his friends at the arcade and bar to grab a drink before heading over to the Glass House venue.

“It’s my first time here,” he said. “But it won’t be my last. It looked pretty cool from outside and they have good drinks here. I’ll be coming back soon.”

Rob Guzmun, CPP alumnus, hangs out, enjoying the vibe while waiting on his friends to join him before a concert. (Jessica Araujo / The Poly Post)

The couple feel that in an era where gaming is often done solo and at home, they encourage people to experience the atmosphere the arcade provides where interactions take place.

“Sometimes when we are walking around, we see a two-player game with one person playing and we like to join and challenge them,” Sabrina said.

Often people playing will scream with joy because they have defeated somebody in a game and the excitement can’t be contained. 

“That’s how we know that we are doing something good,” Evelina said. “If the crowds keep doing that then we know that what we are providing to the Downtown area is worth it.”  

To learn more about the Paradox Arcade and Bar visit their website or follow them on their social media outlets.

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