Interview with Paul Granger, owner of Ottawa’s new ‘House of Targ’

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If you were to ask someone from Ottawa what they thought of their city, it’s quite possible the word “boring” might come up. The city has some nice parks and museums but unless you’re a drinker, its nightlife is missing a little “je ne sais quoi.” (Actually we do know “quoi” and that quoi is fun.)

Enter House of Targ, Ottawa’s newest arcade, live music venue and pierogi (perogi) paradise. While the rise of console and PC gaming has largely killed off the arcade scene (remember the imperial next to Barrymore’s?), it looks like Ottawa gamers of all ages can now get their old school gaming fix.

We had a chat with House of Targ‘s owner Paul Granger, along with his partners Mark McHale and Kevin Burger, about the inspiration behind House of Targ, their fascination with arcade machines and what eager Ottawans can expect for the Targ’s April 17th grand Opening!

Paul, thanks for taking the time to conduct this interview. For those who don’t know, what is ‘House of Targ’?

The House of TARG is the coolest place on Earth. We have wicked live music, the kind that is real and dedicated. We feature an unparalleled lineup of classic pinball/arcade games – tournaments, freeplay nights, charity games – the high score rivalry in Ottawa is just gettin’ started!!! Oh yeah, we also serve handmade perogies that will blow your mind.

“Bar-cades” seem to be growing in popularity all over North America, can you describe how your venue came to be? Where did the inspiration/motivation come from? How would you explain the resurgence of this gaming nostalgia?

Classic arcade games are awesome. They are difficult/challenging and require a financial commitment when you play them. That quarter you are pumping in the machine pays the guy who is going to fix it once a week due to the beating it’s gonna take. We have found that a vibrant music scene is complemented beautifully by pinball/arcade machines. That’s where it comes from for us. We started with one machine and noticed how it changed the feeling in the room. It’s super social. From there the machines grew and so did the community’s love for them!!

You’re located close to the iconic Mayfair theatre, Carleton University and the new Lansdowne development, all important Ottawa landmarks. How important was securing this location in the middle of everything?

We are super pumped to be part of a growing business community in Old Ottawa South. The venues all around town are friends of ours and by being in our “own” area of town, we won’t be stepping on any toes which allows us to be more productive in the support we can offer to the growing music scene in Ottawa. We can’t wait to dig into our new home and entertain our neighbors with great games and shows. The support thus far has been amazing!!!

Would you describe yourself as a geek? Do you game in your spare time?

I like to play games. True story. I enjoy any artistic endeavor that requires time patience and dedication. As a recording engineer/producer I get a lot of songs stuck in my head thanks to the bands I am working with. The games really help when it is time to reset the ole’ clock. I also really enjoy learning to fix them – it is quite an art in of itself.

Out of all the arcade cabinets and pinball machines you have, is there one that stands out as a favourite? Is there a “dream” game that you would love to own in the future?

Dude! My dream game list is just stupid. But I suppose if I had to choose I would love to have an original STAR WARS cabinet at some point. Working on it!! My favorite game at the moment is DR WHO. Killer pinball. So much fun.

House of Targ also promises some live music acts. What kind of music genres and groups can Ottawa expect?

We will be featuring many different styles of bands. What is important to us is the drive, focus and dedication of new/emerging bands who are busting their asses to do what they love. When you see a band like this play you will understand them no matter where your preference lies in style.

What has been the reaction so far from the local music and geek communities? Did you have any help from friends and family?

The support has been overwhelming. TARG has been built by an army of volunteers – people of all walks of life who believe in what we stand for and aim to accomplish. We exist to serve them and are grateful to do so.

Your opening date is set for April 17th, is there anything special that us eager Ottawans can expect for opening night?

Absolutely!! Our super cool mayor Jim Watson will be performing a ribbon cutting ceremony along with local dignitaries/friends/characters – we are trying to keep things close and mysterious for now 😉 The evening will be hosted by Ottawa’s high priest of hilarity REMI ROYALE (who coincidentally is a fantastic pinball player) and we will be graced by a performance by Toronto’s PUP – Canada’s best/biggest buzz band in years!! It’s going to be a blast – can’t wait!!!

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