Sunday, January 1, 2012

Retro, Reuse, Pizza, & PacMan

Back in the day, when I was a wee pup, a Friday night was a fulfilling eve with my high school buddies at Hickory Point Mall, in Forsyth, Illinois, right outside of my hometown Decatur.  More specifically, the corner of the mall by Bergners, where there was a routine two-stop "shopping" for every hangout night:

1). The multi-leveled , ladder-esque-looking Garcias Pizza (best pizza by the slice--ever!), and

2). Around the corner from Garcias, there was the video arcade, named Replay.
Given it was the 1980s, and prices were right, a $5 or $10 could take you far in both places.

Well, given my journey home to the homeland for Christmas, I got an opportunity to trek back to the past... No, not my mall haunt of days gone by (my Hickory Point Mall haunts have long-since disappeared), but to another Garcias, a new one in town (well, at least, "newish" to me!).  Setting up shop adjacent to Millikin University in a little "college town" strip of shops and restaurants (some of which have been long time Decatur favorites), Garcias is right there on the corner, a beacon, just calling you in!

Little and unassuming, Garcias led me right back to my high school days with the same pizza by the slice.  [My personal favorite:  Sausage, though "The Gutbuster" was always a popular favorite for those who like ALL the pizza goodies.]  Inside, in addition to a handful of tables and booths, it was "VideoWorld", where Sega, Atari, and Midway unite.  There were games galore (everything from Ms. PacMan [my all time personal favorite] to Star Wars to Strike Fighter to driving/racetrack games, and more.  Add in the final touch of perfection: continuous playing 80s music!  If I wouldn't have had my own kids with me, I would have felt like Marty McFly in "Back to the Future" (minus the Delorian, of course).

Atari's circa 1976 donned booths. Retro board/card games like "Urban Myth," "The Simpsons" and "Battle of the Sexes" were under Plexiglas on table tops. The tokens were endless and free.  Event the plates were salvaged from a hometown Good Will (that I swear had been on my home table in the late '70s from the "buy a plate a week" series from the local grocery store), right next to a mix match of garage sale silverware... ahhh! It was not only tons of fun for parent and child alike, but it was an excellent example of retro reuse--and a wonderful way to keep a boatload of items out of the landfill. There was such a beauty in its simplicity!  I was nearly in eco-nirvana.

Hanging out there, Johnathon (the proprioter) was the perfect host, checking in on us, and helping out in any way we needed.  As I was sipping my soda (while my kids were playing free token after free token), I raved about the place to Johnathon.  I told him that it could be made truly perfect with only one additional thing: dump the Styrofoam cups!  Yes, in this amazing world of reuse, the Styrofoam was out of place!  Johnathon took my eco-advice in stride and in good humor. In fact, within 5 minutes of our conversation, he made a call to his supplier to check on pricing. Color me impressed!

Of course his findings didn't surprise me... paper cups would almost double the pricing of what he was paying out for Styrofoam. Alak, alas... The old story of bottom line: of green versus green--economy over ecology.  Especially in the world of small business, where profit margins tends to be narrow, it's tough to be pro-planet when you need to be pro-personal-pocket.  I think this is one of those things that is going to always be the conundrum of the environmental movement.  People want to go forth and make sustainable choices, but until there are affordable, comparable options, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Well, back at Garcias... I appreciated Johnathon for taking a moment to pause and investigate the options.  And he thanked me for planting the seed of thought. He said he might try to investigate a hybrid plan for the future with some reusable cups for in-house use, and perhaps paper for "to-go" cups down the line.  I think that is all anyone can do... take little steps, darkening your shade of green as you can and where you can.

But at the end of the day, I truly did feel like I was in my own li'l retro-green nirvana, in the happy place of nostalgia, tasty food & good music filling my soul, smiles on my video-playing munchkins.  Also, I was glad for the conVersation, the conServation, and the open-minded approach to looking at things through new eyes.  Thanks again, Jonathon!  I'm looking forward to heading back to Garcias on my next trip home!!

Pics, courtesy of my own camera, at Decatur's Millikin University neighborhood Garcias, located at 1099 W Main Street, Decatur IL!  Full disclosure, I just love their pizza, the nostalgia, and the retro & reuse (and the merriment of Ms. PacMan), which is the only payback/compensation I am getting in writing this!  ;-)   That, and my perpetual search for blog fodder that feeds my soul.  Mmmm...almost as tasty as a slice of Garcia's sausage pizza!


  1. And...can't wait for that day! lv ya, yo mama

  2. Yep,'s always good to be able to get back to the heartland! Xoxo

  3. I also have fond memories of the Garcia's Pizza and Replay arcade! I loved all those lofty places where you could eat your pizza while spying out into the mall. A few games of Final Fight or Bad Dudes following a slice of pie was a must! :)

  4. I wholeheartedly agree! I can see the spy corners now...and a slice of Garcia's right now would be just what the doctor ordered!! Thanks for visiting and sharing!