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Coming soon: Former Tobacco Bowl space transformed into pizzeria and video arcade


Forbidden Planet
A number of the restaurant’s decorations and fixtures have been custom-built. — photo by John Miller

Forbidden Planet: Pizzeria & Video Arcade will open its doors on Friday, Sept. 26 in the Ped Mall, located in the space formerly occupied by the Tobacco Bowl.

The business is the result of a partnership between the Tobacco Bowl’s now-former owner, Tommy Connolly, Luther Moss and Cory Ingle. According to Moss, it was Connolly’s idea to open a pizzeria, but the three decided that another downtown Iowa City pizza place likely wouldn’t have a lot of staying power.

A retro arcade that also serves pizza and drinks, on the other hand, is something that they hope will be able to provide locals with an alternative to the typical Iowa City bar scene. As far as gaming options, they plan to offer a combination of retro arcade games (think Galaga, but less mainstream) and pinball machines.

Moss says the idea for Forbidden Planet came from examples set by other popular venues across the country.

“There are [arcade bars] opening in a lot of larger cities all the time,” Moss said. “There are three or four in Chicago now, and multiple ones in New York, as well as Up-Down in Des Moines. Pinball and arcade games are sort of a passion for Cory [Ingle] and I.”

Forbidden Planet
Forbidden Planet will host classic arcade games and pinball machines. — photo by John Miller

According to Ingle, who will be in charge of Forbidden Planet’s pizza, they’ve purchased a gas oven with a wood-fire emulator.

“We’ll have two decks that will do two styles of pizza,” Ingle said. “On the top will be neapolitan style, directly on the deck, three or four minute style pizza. And then the bottom will have a door that cooks at 600 degrees. We’ll do a sort of Midwestern style deep dish down there. We’ll also have a slice option for lunch and late night. It’ll be a metro-slice option that’s partially baked and then topped to order. Sort of a five-minute-slice idea.”

In addition to hosting a happy hour that will feature discounted beer and game tokens, the trio plan to regularly host charity nights. Area organizations could opt to replace the restaurant’s floor staff on certain evenings, Moss says, after which a portion of the evening’s proceeds would go in support of that organization.

“I’ve seen other places run this sort of a night, and we like the idea that people are actively involved in getting them in here and being a real part of the community,” Moss said.

For the latest updates on Forbidden Planet’s, check out the restaurant’s Twitter and Facebook pages, which regularly post photos of the work-in-progress.

Forbidden Planet
Where’d the smokey haze go? — photo by John Miller

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