By noon Saturday, North Haven resident Mark Allen hopes to be en route to Northeastern Connecticut, bringing quite an unusual form of entertainment to an annual event called the Coventryfest.
“We chose it so that we could attract a younger crowd,” said Coventry resident Albert Landry, who served on the committee that organized the event.
And so the bright yellow trailer with the graphic monster on three sides that Allen will drive—this, the Monster Mobile Arcade—will provide as many as 150 titles on its 11 or 12 video machines, lending its very own kind of fireworks to the Fourth of July weekend event.
Although both are otherwise employed, Allen said that he and his brother Tom Olajos were looking at an article several years back that identified the top 10 businesses that were doing well in the poor economy, and the duo saw mobile video arcades among them.
“It seems that the trend nowadays is that everyone wants everything brought to them,” said Allen, who quickly thought of a pizza truck that operates successfully in the area.
“We love playing games. That’s basically where the business came from,” Allen continued. “My brother’s always tinkered around with pinball machines.”
The “monster” in the title of the pair’s mobile video arcade—a form of entertainment now, in its stationery form, largely relegated to bowling alleys after its 1980’s heyday—comes from the size of the trailer the arcade occupies. At 40 ft. and with a capacity for 20 players, Allen said he and his brother settled on it after tossing names for their new business around.
“’This isn’t just a little trailer,’” Allen recalls the pair thinking. “It’s monstrous. It’s large.’”
Allen conceded that today’s young people only know video games that are played at home. Yet, with Allen in his 40’s and his brother in his 30’s, he said they recalled the days when young persons visited the local arcade.
“It seems to be a hit with the young ones,” Allen said, adding that it also brings parents back to an earlier time. “It’s a reintroduction to the parents but a new form of entertainment for their children.”
Although the mobile video arcade is available for private events such as birthday parties or bar mitzvahs, the pair recently heard from a college that would like the mobile arcade to take part in a homecoming event this fall.
And, Allen adds, the vehicle is ideal for a wedding, because it would give the children their own form of entertainment while their parents enjoy the reception and more formal festivities of the event.
Allen noted that entrepreneurship runs in their family. He said his grandmother ran the now defunct Budapest Restaurant in New Haven after she and her husband immigrated to this country from Hungary, and that his parents are semi-retired from , a metal fabrication shop his brother, who now lives in East Hampton, continues to operate in North Haven.
Because the business just began traveling the roads this spring, it remains, as Allen put it, "a weekend, part-time” operation right now. Still, Allen concedes it would be nice if the business were to “take off” and grow to include three or four more trailers.
Monster Mobile Arcade can be reached at 855-927-2233.
Corrections: Mark Allen's name was incorrect in the original story, as was the name of Coventryfest and his age.