The phone has been ringing repeatedly today at New York's Chinatown Fair, a beloved arcade in downtown New York, thanks to word on Facebook that the place was shutting down. Not true, not really, well... probably not really.
"That was a rumour started by a moron," Chinatown Fair manager Valentino Ventura told Kotaku on the phone today, denying that the historic New York arcade would be closing its doors.
Yes, the arcade is having trouble with its landlord and taking them to court, he said, but that's not going to kill Chinatown Fair. "If things don't work out with the landlord, then maybe we'll go to Williamsburg [in nearby Brooklyn, New York] ." Ventura says Chinatown Fair already has two potential relocation venues and he wants people to know that everything's going to be ok.
Ventura sounded like one stressed arcade manager today, lamenting that "everyone's calling and upset", due to that "rumour" he said was started by Henry Cen. On Sunday, Cen posted a message on Facebook, saying that Chinatown Fair had "lost its lease", a comment that triggered the concerns of arcade-loving gamers despondent that the neighbourhood institution still celebrated as a scrappy temple of fighting games was closing its doors.
Ventura doesn't just dismiss Cen as a "moron" but refers to him as an ex-employee, Chinatown Fair's former technician who occasionally comes by to fix up some of the arcade cabinets owned by Cen's friend that are on the premises. Cen, however, refers to himself, in messages to Kotaku, as the arcade's "primary investor" and to Ventura as "just an employee" who "is going to be fired to my knowledge".
The two men are, in a roundabout way, saying the same thing. Both say Chinatown Fair management is at odds with the arcade's landlord. Ventura says "we're definitely not closing down" and that there is "no chance that we're moving this week". Cen says "we now have a Marshall's Office of NYC eviction notice that in 6 business days from the 16th, we'll be closed down on the 28th. We're trying to get a court order injunction by the 23rd for a Order to Show Cause to delay the eviction but most certainly Chinatown Fair will not be at that location anymore unless the landlord has a drastic change of heart." [Note: if you're unsure of how six days gets them to the 28th, so are we.]
Both men also point to Chinatown Fair owner Samuel Palmer as an instrumental player in all this. He wasn't at Chinatown Fair today, but gaming site Joystiq got in touch with him last night. He told them: "I'm trying to see if I can relocate my business."
It sounds like no one wants Chinatown Fair shut down other than their landlord and maybe the City of New York. The rest want it to move, though how this soap opera will turn next is anyone's guess. If you want to enjoy the place as it is, head to 8 Mott Street. It's still there, for now.
Photo by Aulistar Mark from his Kotaku feature about the greatness of Chinatown Fair.