Pacman and MarioKart live on in Hackney’s retro gaming bar

Four Quarters Bar. Pic: Begum Whitehead

Even in  vibrant Hackney, where so many different types of entertainment compete for our attention, The Four Quarters East Bar manages to stand out from the crowd.

Four Quarters East offers a new take on the bar experience: packed with original arcade games from the early 80’s up to the 2000’s  it offers  a whole new retro gaming world for those not around to enjoy the delights of Pacman or Space Invaders the first time around.

Recently awarded  ‘Bar of the Week’ by Time Out, Four Quarters East is located on the canalside in Hackney Wick just inside the boundaries of the Olympic Park. Like its sister venue in Peckham, all the arcade games use American Quarter Dollar coins which can be purchased at £1 for 4. Consoles are all free to play. The retro theme even extends to the pizzas on sale, named after your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.


Francois Kitching centre, with other members of staff. Pic: Begum Whitehead

Owner Francois Kitching first began working in the Peckham branch of Four Quarters, launched in the summer of 2014 and opening Four Quarters East in February 2017.

He said: “It was important for us to find a second site that we felt fit our brand and was in some way comparable with Peckham.

“Here East cemented the choice due to the development of a very strong tech hub with companies like Sports Interactive having moved in. People making games like to play games, so we figured it was a perfect fit.”

Four Quarters interior. Pic: Begum Whitehead

Kitching added: “We’re about having fun and encouraging all to play. Games like Pacman and MarioKart tear down age and gender barriers and are timeless, that sort of thing is right up our street.”

Francois Kitching. Pic: Begum Whitehead

The Four Quarters currently run a range of events such as a retro quiz alongside various games tournaments, such as their recent Street Fighter 2 Turbo Battle Royale.

Francois told ELL of the how the idea for old-fashioned games came about. “Personally, I was inspired by a trip to Tokyo many years ago. I’d grown up in a northern seaside town and seen the arcades disappear, but when visiting games cafes in Japan, it became clear that you could still offer fun games to play in a social environment.

“I wanted to start up an arcade bar for a long time. These games were designed for social play and their success at bringing people together to have fun has not been lost over the decades.”

The aesthetic is laid back and industrial. Francois said: “If we’d had a huge bucket of cash we might have made something far more costly and perhaps less attractive.”

Arcade games. Pic: Begum Whitehead

“The more people who come to the events, the better and more frequent we can make them. We’re currently planning a record fair for the summer with live music and DJ’s and have a couple of very popular new arcade machines to deliver to the site.”

Bar. Pic: Begum Whitehead

Kitching said the company was looking at expanding to a third site.  “I believe that Four Quarters could offer even more fun for our customers with more sites. For example, running tournaments across multiple venues to find the best player of a certain game.

“We’ve got lots of interesting and creative ideas for the future, which we believe will keep us ahead of the game.”

Leave a Reply