GameWorks closing in Block E


A year after announcing it wanted to sublease its space, GameWorks said it is closing its doors at Block E, as well as six other locations around the country. And while the local press has been quick to point out that this represents another step back for Block E, it's worth pointing out that GameWorks has been struggling for a while.

Sega, Universal Studios, and Dreamworks SKG founded the first of the chain's restaurant/video game arcade on steroids in Seattle in 1997. Dreamworks bailed in 2001, concerned that the market for themed restaurants was over. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004. It was bought by Sega in 2005.

Block E does have issues: Borders Books bailed on its lease in February 2008, and Hooters was recently served an eviction notice for failing to pay rent. But it has also attracted Kieran's Irish Pub, which moved into the old Bellanote space. And in less than two weeks, the Twins' home opener at brand spankin' new Target Field just down the street may usher in a new flood of downtown visitors looking for places to eat, drink and be merry.

Sega's announcement was unexpected, the Downtown Journal reported.

Just last week, Brittany Garcia, director of sales for the Minneapolis GameWorks, discussed plans the bar had for a day-long baseball celebration involving all tenants at Block E. The event was scheduled for Friday, to coincide with the Twins' first home exhibition game at Target Field. The game is considered by many to be a prime business opportunity for Downtown bars and restaurants.

"This challenging economic environment has forced us to make these tough financial decisions," said company president and CEO Cory Haynes in a statement. "The changes were necessary for us to move into the future as a robust, exciting and viable entertainment company."