While shooting b-roll footage for their upcoming documentary, Arcade: The Last Night at Chinatown Fair, Kurt Vincent and Owen Strock came upon an interesting sight. The security gate for the space once occupied by the arcade had been opened, and a group of men were moving a variety of old cabinets inside. After checking with various sources, including past manager Henry Cen, information surfaced that a man named Lonnie was working to reopen the arcade. A landmark in the fighting game community, Chinatown Fair was where many east coast mainstays first got their start in the genre, and the news of its closing in early 2011 shocked players around the country. We’re currently in the process of contacting Cen and other sources to verify this information.
This is a still frame from footage we shot on March 14, 2012. Owen Strock and I were shooting b-roll for the movie around Chinatown Fair when we noticed the security gate at 8 Mott Street raised. Earlier in the week, Sam, the previous owner of Chinatown Fair, told me someone was re-opening the arcade. But you hear a lot of things. I wasn’t sure how likely it was happening. Now we know. A group of men were moving some of the old games back inside. One of the men introduced himself as Lonnie. He told me they were hired to move in the games and empty the trash that remained inside. I spoke with Henry Cen, co-owner of Next Level and integral part of the old Chinatown Fair, and he told me a guy named Lonnie was reopening the arcade at 8 Mott Street. I am guessing the Lonnie I met is the Lonnie reopening the arcade. It’s interesting to note that if this is the same Lonnie, it isn’t the first time he has been involved with a beloved NYC institution. Lonnie told me he used to bartend at his uncle’s place, Max’s Kansas City.
I love how the story of Chinatown Fair keeps going. I suspect it will never truly end.