AUSTIN, Texas — Imran Acosta’s voice covers a live stream of popular battle royale game Fortnite.


What You Need To Know

  • Arcades fall under “amusement venues” category in Texas
  • Arcade owner has vowed to keep employees on payroll
  • He has submitted application for government assistance

He runs the stream every Friday as a way to stay connected with fans and customers of his retro arcade and esports center Texas Gamers Lounge (TGL). It’s just about all he has left to do since the pandemic shut down both of his arcades in Austin and San Marcos.

“I don’t know what to tell people when they ask, ‘When are you opening?’” Acosta said.

Acosta’s business is one of the few that remain closed and without a date to reopen. Arcades fall in line with amusement venues, but while other businesses in that category like bowling alleys were allowed to reopen on May 22, Acosta is left playing the waiting game.

Texas Gamers Lounge (Agustin Garfias/Spectrum News)

 

“By the end of March, I didn’t think I could last another day,” Acosta said.

Despite not having any way to immediately make extra income when he was told to shut down his business, he promised his employees they could keep their jobs and their paychecks.

“I told my staff on day one, I’m not laying anybody off. We’re going to keep payroll going no matter what it takes. I didn’t collect mine but I did process theirs,” Acosta said.

Acosta says he went the first two months of the shutdown without making a single penny. But just before payday, the business received some extra life in the form of anonymous donors. TGL also sold a number of shirts overnight helping Acosta keep his word.

“I thought ‘Dude, this is great, because all my staff need their paychecks tomorrow,’” Acosta said.

TGL has sold some arcade games for income as well.

Texas Gamers Lounge (Agustin Garfias/Spectrum News)

 

Acosta told Spectrum News he has been doing a lot of research and has found other arcades in Texas have chosen to reopen on their own. But Acosta is choosing to play it safe and await instructions as long as he can.

He has applied for a government loan which he believes could keep his business afloat for up to a year under the current state of shutdown orders. But like many small business owners, he is still waiting for a reply to his application.

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