If you’re looking for a unique night out in Ames, Time Out may be the place for you. A family-owned bar and arcade, Time Out is full of pop culture nostalgia from the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Owned and operated by Chris Harding and her sons, Lance Harding and Logan Ristau, Time Out has been located just off Main Street since 2017. The idea for Time Out began when Harding was looking for a way out of her corporate job in Des Moines. After doing some preliminary research, she pitched an arcade bar to her family, and they ran with it.
“I was at a point in my career where work just wasn’t fun anymore,” recalls Chris, reflecting on the origins of the establishment. “I remember pitching the idea to my sons and they immediately ran with the idea.”
At the time, Chris cashed in her retirement to fund the project and the brothers instantly started rattling off arcade games that they wanted to see included. “Lance and Logan immediately let their imaginations run wild, thinking back to all the arcades they frequented growing up,” said Chris. “The ideas started immediately,” said Logan.
They sketched the design of the logo on a napkin and began work on the layout. They chose the name because they wanted to design it as a place to take a “Time Out” from the daily stresses. Before they knew it, they had a building full of arcade games.
“It’s the little things that provide the atmosphere for Time Out,” said Lance, acknowledging the curated nostalgia that they put into the design. He pointed to a Gremlin that sits atop a television on the wall, or Slimmer from the Ghostbusters movie franchise. “Certainly nostalgia is a big part of our place,” said Lance. “Most of the things you see in here date past 20 years, but that is what creates the immersive experience.”
Moving around Time Out, you may also recognize a life-sized TARDIS in the corner from the Doctor Who series, a Back to the Future poster, and an extensive music video playlist from the MTV era of music videos playing on the televisions throughout the bar. From the Beastie Boys to Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston, the music atmosphere takes your mind away from your daily life. Even their power-button like, teal and black, futuristic logo, pays homage to another 1980’s science fiction film: TRON.
Over the past several years, Time Out has grown a following of dedicated patrons that frequent the establishment. Thursday is known for BINGO night, and each evening on the weekend, Time Out is home to karaoke. They have won various Des Moines People’s Choice Awards, most recently been voted the Best for Trivia Night, Karaoke, Children’s Birthday Party Venue, Date Night Spot, Beer Selection, and Ames Bar. All of this is the result of a family working together and leaning into each other’s strengths.
Lance has an eye for details in game placement and decor that gives Time Out its unique atmosphere. He manages the games to make sure that each one is working properly. This isn’t always easy with some games dating back 30-40 years.
Logan is credited with designing the entire bar and building it from the ground up. He was key in their construction projects, from the stage to the karaoke booth. If Chris and Lance dream it up, Logan builds it. His artistic ability can be seen throughout the facility from the circuits on the front of the bar to the paintings on the wall. Chris is happy to do most of her work behind the scenes to ensure that each customer has a pleasant experience.
Time Out is both family-friendly and a late night hang out, depending on the time of day. “We encourage families to stop by in the afternoons,” said Chris. The list of throwback games continues to expand, but includes Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Frogger, Super Mario Bros, and Marvel vs. CAPCOM, among others. If those games are not your style, they also have skee-ball and a wide range of pinball games, all of which still take quarters.
Time Out is located at 120 Kellogg Avenue in Ames.
304 Main St.
Ames, Iowa 50010
Phone: (515) 232-2310
About the Ames Chamber
Centrally and conveniently located in the heart of the Midwest and Iowa, Ames is known for its healthy, stable economy, flourishing cultural environment, and the world-renowned Iowa State University.
With over 700 members, the Ames Chamber of Commerce strives to make Ames a better place to live, work, and do business by strengthening the economic vitality and the quality of life in the Ames community.