Androo Faulkner, the arcade owner bringing gaming back, retro style
Online gaming may have become the norm, but nestled in the middle of a bustling city centre is R-Cade Glasgow, a retro gaming arcade and Japanese style cafe that’s sure to take your nostalgia up a level.
“It’s a celebration of video games across the years,” says Androo, who founded R-Cade with his partner, Michelle. Their arcade proudly offers over 1,100 games from companies like Atari, Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation, and Xbox, allowing everyone who walks through their doors to take a trip down memory lane.
“It’s all about retro video games and building a community around that,” says Androo. “It’s great to see parents coming in with their children and playing games together that they grew up with in their childhoods,” he adds. “You don’t always get that camaraderie between parents and kids, which we see here in the cafe every day.”
“My two biggest passions in life are Japanese culture and video games”
When it came to starting R-CADE, Androo wanted to do something that he enjoyed every day. “My two biggest passions in life are Japanese culture and video games,” explains Androo, who’s been collecting consoles and games since he was a young boy.
Likewise, Androo’s always loved Japan; the culture, people, traditions, and ethos. “It’s all about the greater good,” he explains. “It’s not dog-eat-dog. It’s more of ‘how can I make everybody else’s life greater and easier’ and I think that whole ethos is beautiful.”
So, an arcade serving authentic Japanese snacks – think instant noodle pots, freshly-steamed gyoza, and other authentic delicacies – felt like the natural answer.
Surprisingly, R-CADE’s devoted community isn’t the typical student types you’d expect, which came as a shock to Androo and Michelle. “I thought noodles, video games. That’s what I did as a student. How can that not work?” recalls Androo. While the duo focused their marketing, advertising, and events on students, unfortunately it just didn’t resonate.
But it wasn’t game over for R-CADE. “I think, because the business is owned by myself, my partner and our son, we are a family ourselves, we accidentally created a family-friendly business and we realised this about three months in,” says Androo. “And so, we refocused, changed our game up a little, changed our events, and so the family-friendly vibe came from there.”
“We find a lot of kids these days are looking at YouTube and seeing their favourite YouTube stars playing retro video games and then they want to try them themselves,” he adds.
It’s not just gaming; during the holidays, R-CADE host workshops and events, from t-shirting printing to a more electronics-based ‘build your own controller’ workshop.
R-CADE’s welcoming community vibe is almost tangible. It’s dramatically helped one regular visitor who visits with his mentor every Thursday afternoon. He has Asperger’s and mild autism, and would have to leave if it got too loud or crowded. But over time, things changed. “He’s so comfortable that he’s happy to be here and he’s now actually talking to other kids and helping them out with their video games,” says Andrew. “We’ve created that for him. It’s lovely.”
Before starting R-Cade, Androo worked for Sainsbury’s as a store supervisor, and had previously worked for Game and Maplin Electronics.
“I worked dayshifts and I was like, ‘I’m so comfortable I could do this the rest of my life without thinking about it,’ but I wasn’t genuinely happy with my job,” he recalls. Androo decided to take a novel approach to make his job worse: “For the last year and a half before starting R-Cade, I purposely worked on nightshifts, to motivate myself to leave!”
It was part of his plan to push himself to the point where he’d leave with the momentum to build a business plan and get the funding – and it worked.
From day one, funding has been Androo’s biggest challenge. Trying to convey a business concept that hadn’t been done before was frustrating, and meant the banks didn’t want to know. In the end, Androo took out a personal loan.
“Because the banks wouldn’t give me any money, they wouldn’t give me a bank account either. And so, Tide were fantastic!” exclaims Androo. “It was like, ‘Okay, I can do this all online, it’s so simple,’ and we opened an account with Tide so quickly.”
“If I hadn’t had Tide at the start, then I wouldn’t have had the basis to go and do what I do now, because we found it so difficult to get a traditional bank account,” he adds.
Androo’s Tide account was particularly helpful in keeping his finances separate. “When it comes to financing a loan and trying to separate the personal from the business, having a Tide account made it easy. We did our accounts ourselves personally for the first year, so it was especially important to separate our personal and business bank accounts.”
The silver lining of Androo’s struggle with funding means he’s well-placed to offer advice to others looking to start a business. “I encourage them to make use of all the local resources they can, like Business Gateway,” he explains. “Or if you’re under 25, the Prince’s Trust – they’re fantastic for funding, and then looking for grants and that kind of thing as well, and I’ve recommended Tide to so many people.”
So, what’s in-store for the future of retro gaming? Expansion. “Last summer we did have points where this place was too full, which is a good problem to have,” explains Androo.
“We’re looking at opportunities for larger spaces first. Hopefully, once we hit our two year mark next January, then we’ll have things in place to do so, but it’s all about getting to that point first. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves,” he adds.
We’re looking forward to seeing where the next level takes them.
If you’re in Glasgow and fancy a trip down memory lane, head over to R-CADE.