When a new family entertainment venue serving up wood-fired pizzas and international beer takes over the Village Carousel & Arcade space next year at the Ventura Harbor Village, it will also be the end of an era.
Aarmark Beer Gardens, Inc. signed a multi-year lease to manage the 5,736 square-foot space on Jan. 19.
"What I'm trying to do is a mix of things for kids and adults alike," said Aaron Running, CEO of Aarmark Beer Gardens Inc., who wants to open by April 2023.
That means the carousel and existing arcade games that have been around since the 1980s will leave the harbor in April, said Tristan Thames, a co-owner of the Village Carousel.
He lamented the loss of the carousel, which he recalls going to when he was a kid.
"I have lots of friends my age who remember riding it when they were kids. Now, they're bringing their kids," said Thames, who is in his 30s. "The fate of the carousel at this point is unknown and it could end up sitting in a box in my driveway until someone buys it. It's definitely the end of an era."
The new era is going to feature virtual reality games, European beers and multiple televisions.
Inside the new venue will be virtual reality-styled games that are projected on the floor like duck-pin bowling and retro arcade games like Ms. Pac-Man or Galaga, Running said. Children will be able to play on a Hungry Hungry Hippo-styled machine where kids can sit on the animal and grab prizes with a claw.
The back patio area will feature cornhole and beer pong for adults with lots of televisions showing sports throughout the venue, Running said.
Besides European and local beers, the venue will feature sausages, burgers and pizzas with sourdough crust.
The contract for the lease was approved unanimously by the Ventura Port Commission on Jan. 19, said Brian Pendleton, general manager of the Ventura Port District.
Aarmark signed a six-year lease with options for three additional five-year-terms, Pendleton said.
"We're thrilled to have this opportunity to bring a successful restauranteur in Aarmark Beer Gardens to expand its offerings into a family fun entertainment use along with a restaurant activity as well," Pendleton said.
Aarmark also operates Fire & Vice in Moorpark and Santa Maria, SB Biergarten in Santa Barbara and Copenhagen Sausage Garden in Solvang.
There is not a name yet for the new venue, Running said.
"We're bouncing around a bunch of different things," he said. "We're trying to focus on a family friendly entertainment center vibe but we have the beer and sausage, pizza also."
Running said he will pay a base rent and common-area maintenance charges totaling about $13,000 a month, plus 4% of gross sales.
The current carousel and arcade games will continue to operate through April, according to a Facebook post.
"After many years of trying to secure a new lease in the harbor, searching outside the harbor for a new space and not being able to secure either, the Ventura Port District voted to have a new tenant move into our space. ... It's heart breaking to have to close our business but this has become our only option at this time," according to the Ventura Village Carousel Facebook page.
Thames said winter months were slow and currently the facility is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. He said he only has three employees, with one who started two weeks ago.
"We've never closed in the middle of the week ever for any reason," Thames said. "Due to short staffing and nobody being in the harbor spending money, we thought it would be easier to be closed for two days. Being closed is cheaper than being open on those two days. It's sad."
With just months left on his lease, Thames is now making plans to possibly sell everything.
"Anything that can't be sold will be donated or given away or recycled or stored at this point," Thames said.
Thames said he was on a month-to-month lease for seven to eight years. He said he paid $4,324 in rent. He said he worked as a cabinet maker on the side for additional income.
"That is going to be my full-time job whenever the business closes," Thames said.
The new restaurant and entertainment center will be located at 1575 Spinnaker Drive, Suite 100.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Ventura Harbor Village carousel being replaced with beer garden