This past week, with the energy of winter break rolling in a relaxed energy of gratefulness and contentment, I had the pleasure of visiting Tenth Level Tavern, an arcade/craft beer bar located in Oakland Park. To say I was impressed and pleased would be an understatement.
Sitting down in person with owners Joey Cammisa and Emily Davis, I got a glimpse into their business, their art, and ultimately, their little world. With caring and down-to-earth ownership, a loyal and eclectic community, positive vibes, and a range of games for everyone and their mother to enjoy, this place has a bright future ahead!
Passion for Games
Joey Cammisa is a Florida native, who grew up in Davie. It’s safe to say that entrepreneurship runs in the blood of this family. If you’ve ever visited a local Char Hut, you are dining at a delicious American-style burger joint that was started by Joey’s grandfather in the seventies.
When asked what began the journey toward the creation of Tenth Level Tavern, Joey explained “I really liked to get drunk and play street fighter, and I needed a place to do it”. I personally couldn’t think of a better explanation for opening a business like this and was thoroughly amused by the response!
Bringing Like-Minded People Together
This passion for gaming and, well… tipsy times, is exactly what brings in the great energy to this place. These owners genuinely care about their customers, the community being built through the tavern, and the quality of your experience here. Whether alone, with friends, or even on a date, Tenth Level Tavern is a place to feel welcomed, safe, accepted, and ready to have a good time.
I was curious, as I know the gamer community can be a very isolated yet vibrant culture in our society, how this place played into that mix. What I found, was quite remarkable.
Where Gamers Feel At Home
Tenth Level Tavern both supports gamers and artists, and really anyone in between. We spoke of the regulars, the backbone of the tavern. “It’s a community that a lot of times doesn’t have a place to go and feel comfortable. Growing up and going to clubs and whatnot, I’d always had in the back of my mind that I’d rather be home playing games. There’s a lot of social anxiety that comes with going out”, said Joey.
We’ve all had this experience of not quite fitting in at some point in our lives. The owners cater to this familiarity by giving these people with alternative interests a place to have fun, socialize, and still feel comfortable and confident.
Emily also explained to me that this is a place for women to not have to worry. “If you’re alone and don’t want to be bothered, no one bothers you here. As a woman, that is huge”. This can be a relief and quite the contrast to the usual night out for a single woman.
Local Art Supporters
Not only does the tavern cater to the gamers, but they also play a role in the local art community here in Oakland Park and the surrounding Fort Lauderdale area.
Before the Covid era of 2020, Tenth Level Tavern was covered in art, which Joey described as “crazy, but awesome”. There is still permanent cartoon/anime-style artwork on the walls, done by Gigi Ritch of Formula Ink Tattoos in Fort Lauderdale. Now, with a more structured approached, the tavern focuses on one artist per month, showcasing their work and selling it.
In fact, twice a month, artists can come and sell their work with no fee. If you’ve ever been a struggling artist, or even self-employed, you know how hard it can be to get your name out there in the spotlight. This is just a few of the ways these owners take part in supporting local artists. “We always want to make sure local artists are taken care of”, says Emily and Joey.
They also were previously holding charity events every other month where patrons could pay a donation through purchasing drinks at the bar with no capped price. Tenth Level Tavern currently holds Karaoke Night every Thursday, because the people need their time to shine.
Dealing with COVID-19 Effects
While the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on small businesses across the world, this couple pushed through. Regulars continue to bring life to the business, and there are no signs of stopping anytime soon.
The tavern houses video games of both the retro and modern type, ranging from console games, to arcade games, to even the new Nintendo Switch games. If you are a gamer, this place has your name written all over it.
They’ve also been focusing their energy on their craft beer selection as of recent, with over 250 beers being cycled weekly through the bar. “I really want people to try something new and open their minds”, says Emily. If you are timid or unsure about craft beer, Tenth Level Tavern is a great place to start. There’s always a new beer to try, and bartender “Lucky” always has your back.
This “barcade” has so much going for them. They are located in a convenient little spot, right in the center of Oakland’s trendy and hip art district, next to other small businesses and coffee shops. They provide a safe haven for the individuals who are seeking an experience outside the “norm”, it has birthed many relationships, including 4 marriages and 2 literal humans – Wow! Not bad for a 5 year old business. Even more impressive is they manage to do all this while giving you a unique and fun experience. But Camissa and Davis acknowledge that their success is also due to their amazing staff : “we really wouldn’t be anywhere without them“.
In the tavern’s Yelp community, you will find comments such as “This place holds so many great memories for me”, and “Perfect chill but fun date night spot”. This is clearly a cherished and sacred place for both their regulars and newbies to let loose and decompress. Tenth Level Tavern is an awesome asset to the Oakland Park Community, a one and only Barcade that should be on your list of places to check out!
Disclaimer: Some images are pre-COVID-19 pandemic. Masks are required at this time.
Tenth Level Tavern: 1242 NE 38th St, Oakland Park, FL
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About the Author
Sarah Haupt is a 25-year-old college student and dance instructor. Though her interests are broad, writing has always held a place in her heart since childhood. First taking interest in narrative essay writing, Sarah continued to pursue contests in various other styles such as poetry and journalism throughout her high school career. Now studying education, she hopes to expand her knowledge of the journalistic field and possibly continue writing on the side throughout her time as a teacher.
Oakland Park is home to many unique small businesses and carries much of the Fort Lauderdale culture on its back. Sarah loves exploring the area and finding new places to discover, eat at, photograph, etc. Visiting new spots and learning about community-related activities has become a new hobby for Sarah, and she plans to use this platform to inform the people of Oakland Park about what is going on in their backyard in a truthful, descriptive, and entertaining manner.
You can find her sitting at a coffee shop, creating new dance moves, and writing about her favorite places on LivingInOaklandPark.com.