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New decade dawns as 1984 Branson opens

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Thirty-five years after it turned up on the calendar, 1984 is new again in Branson.

The ownership of 1984 Branson plans to open tomorrow at 4240 Gretna Road, Ste. 4240, in the Shoppes at Branson Meadows. A group of nine, including the seven owners of downtown Springfield’s 1984 arcade, own the Branson-based business, said co-owner Ron Murphy.

Springfield residents Murphy and his wife Debi will operate the roughly 8,000-square-foot arcade. To start, it will feature around 50 arcade machines, with room to double that total, he said. Classics such as “Donkey Kong,” “Rampage” and “Defender” are among the roster of games available.

“In a way, we’ll be a step back in time,” Murphy said of the venue, which is devoted to the decade of the 1980s, both in gaming content and decor.

Vinyl art of iconic figures of the ’80s, including Prince, Madonna and E.T., are part of the work Murphy said co-owner Chris Stuart contributed to the building’s look.

Another eye-catching item on display is a wooden boom box that has speaker grills to play ’80s music with a video screen in the middle. Murphy estimated the boom box is nearly 12 feet wide and 9 feet tall. The stereo was built several years ago for a promotional event at 1984 in Springfield.

“Nobody had room for it afterwards and it went into storage,” he said, adding the Branson arcade turned out to be an ideal spot for it. “It’s a really great ’80s retro theme and will make a great photo opportunity.”

Declining to disclose startup costs or lease terms, Murphy said remodeling work of the former Dress Barn was conducted during the past 10 weeks. The business operates via Branson RetroVision Entertainment LLC, which was created last September by Murphy and Tammy Durham, according to Missouri secretary of state records.

“This location has a lot of synergy for us. It fit our needs really well,” he said, noting 1984 Branson’s neighbors include comic book store Comic Force LLC and Branson Meadows Cinema 11.

A cover charge of $10 allows for unlimited play of arcade games, with 12-15 pinball machines available for gamers by using quarters. A pair of event areas, each with a capacity of 25 people, will be in the back of the building.

“We’ll each have some that the other doesn’t have,” Murphy said of arcade machines in the Branson and Springfield locations. “There will always be some different games.”

After retiring five years ago from 30 years of employment with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., Murphy said he and his wife had started looking for business opportunities. Last year, he approached the owners of 1984 — where he was a customer — about starting up a venture in Branson.

“I wanted to do something a little more unconventional, a little more relaxed and fun,” Murphy said.

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