Our Story


Housed in a historic building on the corner of South Clinton and Meigs Street in Rochester, NY (right on the border of the Swillburg and South Wedge neighborhoods), The Playhouse is a combination bar, arcade and eatery; complete with vintage arcade gamescraft libations and Swillburger, a modern take on the classic American burger joint.

Historic photo of The Playhouse from the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History Division

Historic photo of The Playhouse from the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History Division

Built in 1890 by the Second German Baptist Church, the red brick edifice was home to the Rochester Community Players for over 50 years. Past occupants include Standard Automatic Machine Co and several other religious congregations. 

After a fire destroyed part of the building, it sat vacant for more than three years before Jeff Ching and Brian Van Etten scoped it out as a potential home for a new spin on the beloved American burger joint. 


Realizing the space was simply too damn big for just a burger joint, the pair envisioned a space where Rochesterians could do more than just enjoy a good meal. Drawing on their own nostalgia for classic arcade games The Playhouse, a bar, arcade, and burger joint, was born. 

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A grueling renovation and buildout followed. The large building was in much rougher shape than anticipated and, as with many project of this size, there were a number of bumps along the way. An outpouring of community support raised the needed Kickstarter funds and The Playhouse opened for business in December 2015


With a custom bar and furniture designed by Rochester-based firm Staach, the spacious interior hosts a bright kitchen, full bar, pinball room and a variety of video games.  Open 7 days a week, The Playhouse welcomes gamers of all levels, craft beer enthusiasts and Genny-loyalists alike, and families and friends of all ages (21+ starts at 10pm). Stop by for a burger, grab a growler to-go, or get some tokens and stay awhile. 


By providing a one-of-a-kind experience to customers in the South Wedge and Greater Rochester area, The Playhouse isn’t just somewhere to go, it's something to do.