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X-Box, cheesecake at new Bell. Blvd arcade

Game Zone Café, a multi-player video game...

By Corey Burkes

Vaz Avedian, co-owner of Game Zone Café, beams like a proud father. Together with partners Alex Enanian and Armond Israelian, he has brought the video game arcade back to Bayside with a 21st century twist.

Game Zone Café, a multi-player video game center and full-service café premiered Dec. 20 at 38-11 Bell Blvd. quietly and with little fanfare considering the popularity of the billion-dollar industry.

“We’ve been building the (café) for a year and when we opened we didn’t do any major promotions or advertising ... word of mouth is getting the job done for us,” Avedian said.

Less than a month after being in business, a packed house with a waiting list is already in effect. Word of mouth does work.

Game Zone Café offers up game play for fans of the major brand home consoles (Nintendo Game Cube, Microsoft X-Box, Sony Playstations) and PC games to come together and challenge each other in a safe, family environment.

The visitor is greeted by the quasi-high tech/industrial motif and a fully stocked café serving up everything from Tiramisu to various cheesecakes, sandwich wraps and beverages. Decorating the walls are video games and accessories ready for purchase and televisions on the walls, floor (yes, floor!) and at the table so a player can watch a currently playing video or hook up a joystick and get some game time while eating.

A unique part has to be the Video Game Preview Station, created by manager and programmer of the café, Patrick Avedian, where the games’ promotional videos can be previewed at the touch of a screen before purchases are made.

The core of the action takes place in the heart of the building where 26 networked computers put fellow game fans to the test on such hot titles as “Unreal Tournament,” “Quake,” “NBA Live,” “NHL,” “Medal of Honor,” “Diablo II” and other major first-player adventure games. Since game play can go on for hours at a time, each station is equipped with a Cyber Waitress for ordering food and drinks while the player is doing necessary damage to opponents.

A projection screen painted on the wall above and ahead of game play shows popular movies for those pauses between matches. Just outside of the main gaming room is a smaller, private booth for those who might actually want to use a computer for work with Internet connection and printers, but it doubles equally as a back-up gaming center.

Membership in the café is free, entitling players to future game competitions and offers. Joining gets the visitor a membership card with his or her image digitally imprinted. Game play starts at $5.50 per hour. The hours are Mon-Thurs 7 a.m. - 11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. - 3 a.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 3 a.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Considering the explosion of interest in video gaming by youngsters from the ages of 9 to 16, Vaz Avedian, a native of Bayside, maintains a strict code of conduct and rules to make it clear he is running a family acceptable establishment.

“I want the family to feel comfortable,” he said, greeting an incoming couple with their children. “Other places have smoking and we didn’t want that. There’s no alcohol, no cursing and we’re strict with the (gaming) rating system.”

Game Zone Café also restricts game play during school hours for children under 16.

The future looks bright for Vaza Avedian and his partners, who are filling a void on the Bell Boulevard strip where a closed movie theater ended the remaining source of entertainment for the whole family.

“We’re completely family-oriented. As long as we stay true to that, I can’t see why we can’t succeed,”

Vaz Avedian said.

TimesLedger Art Department members Jason Santana and Rachel Schiffman contributed to this story.

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