BROOKLYN -- It's hard to miss the glowing neon floor or the video game decor that the new chain 8-Bit Bites shows off proudly.
"We have become the haven, the hangout that you would go to as a kid to play arcade games, and it's been amazing watching adults interact with their kids on the games that they grew up playing," said Ali Ahmed, owner of 8-Bit Bites.
Walking into the restaurant is like getting hit with a burst of nostalgia. Wacky designs from the 1990s line the walls, and each employee sports a matching shirt.
Mario Question Block lamps light up each table, and the air ducts are painted green like Mario's warp pipes with Piranha Plants sticking out the vents.
At each table, you will find two controllers and a TV loaded with over 1,000 emulated games from the 1980s and 1990s. Even the self-order counter tablets are designed after a Pac-Man game.
What started as a joking concept among friends has quickly turned into six locations, with four more in the pipeline.
"Food is not enough to keep you in business. You have to give them an experience that they're going to remember you by," Ahmed said. The idea of bringing in cosplay actors started with the Power Rangers and has now grown into a network of cosplayers who hope to bring many different characters to life.
"As a kid seeing a suit actor in something you know that you've seen on TV brightens your day and I feel like seeing that on a customer's face - it's a rewarding experience," said Nelson Lu, one of the managers of 8-Bit Bites.
The menu includes burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, milkshakes, funnel fries, and churro bites.
As an experienced local business owner, Ahmed knows how important it is to give back to the community, so every Wednesday, they donate food to help feed those who are unhoused.
8-Bit Bites is also sponsoring a book-bag drive that will donate around 20,000 backpacks, and they regularly work with the YMCA to support other community events.
"Anything where it's gonna bring kids together to interact, we'll be there with free food, just let us know," exclaims Ahmed.