New beercade levels up downtown entertainment scene

The Great Lakes Bay Region is now home to the first arcade bar of its kind. Brinstar, a ‘beercade,’ opened at 415 E. Main St. in downtown Midland on June 3. Co-owners Belle Fawcett and Scott Nankervis hope the new business ‘levels up’ the local dining and entertainment scene.

Fawcett says the business proposal came to the duo initially as a ‘side gig’ idea. Nankervis told Fawcett, ‘I like beer and video games, and I think other people do, too.’ Three years later, the business finally opened its doors, after setbacks and delays brought on by COVID-19. 

Fawcett says the co-owners spent plenty of time doing market research, comparing similar restaurants and arcades in the state, which at the time, there were only seven in Michigan. The entrepreneurs looked into how many games the locations had, how much seating, and what kind of food they offered. 

Brinstar sets itself apart from the typical bar food offerings, and features a full, rotating menu of high-quality ingredient food and handmade sauces.

“I wanted to have things I felt like I couldn’t get in Midland, or the larger area,” Fawcett, who is in charge of the menu, says. “It’s really hard to find fresh-cut french fries or poutine. I’ve put quite an international flair to the menu because I like a lot of ethnic foods.”

I wanted to have things I felt like I couldn’t get in Midland.
Fawcett wants to move away from traditional pre-breaded, frozen chicken and fries to fresh, real ingredient options, and homemade sauces like ranch, bleu cheese, pineapple salsa, and the unique patty-melt-your-face-off sauce. Popular menu items include the variety of egg rolls, and there are also vegan and vegetarian options. On the weekends, they serve breakfast food.

The space allows for 78 chairs for dining, a 99-person capacity, and about 20 games, ranging from 1979 until present-day models. The newest, a Mandalorian Pro pinball machine is already a fan favorite. There are some free-play games, as well as quarter machines which range from 25 cents to $1. 
Brinstar is located at 415 E. Main Street in downtown Midland.
“People are in awe,” Fawcett says of the space, “they love it. The weekend is bringing lots of younger kids, and they seem just as curious and enthralled as any kid was 40 years ago when they got to play the video games.”

The free-play cocktail tables make for a great option for the younger players, says Fawcett. “It’s really great for little kids because the parents don’t have to keep dumping in quarters for 30 seconds of play.”

Brinstar is located at 415 E. Main St, and is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at