by Jarin Eisenberg, Major Gift Officer
The minute you walk into Arcade Monsters you are instantly transported into a 90’s arcade complete with neon lights, over 90 original stand-up games, and an eclectic selection of craft beers, console games, and a ton of good vibes. Florida Tech alumnus, Adrian Ravelo, founder and owner of Arcade Monsters, opened the business in the Fall of 2018 in Oviedo, FL. Ravelo is no stranger to the arcade business; His father, Humberto, owned an arcade in the 80’s in New York. Ravelo met his best friend and business partner there, Andy Rodriguez, and together they came up with the idea to take those games out of storage and open an arcade that would be a place for the community, where friends and family can gather to play their favorite childhood games.
Ravelo earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2008 from Florida Tech where he also played baseball. Upon graduation Ravelo spent 8 years working for the Department of Defense as a project manager overseeing target training. When asked what prompted him to the make the switch and open up his own business, Ravelo states “I just wanted to have fun.”
The quest to open Arcade Monsters was not a straight path as resistance from property owners who were unsure of the concept and the clientele it would attract made it difficult to find a location. His persistence to open the business comes as no surprise to Greg Berkemeir, Head Coach of Florida Tech Baseball. Coach Berkemeir remembers Ravelo as “a very driven and passionate individual, that when he set his mind to accomplish a task was going to do everything in his power to accomplish that task and not let anything stand in his way.” With the help of the Mayor of Oviedo, Arcade Monsters found its home in a plaza located on Alafaya Woods Blvd.
Ravelo is proud of the role of Arcade Monsters has played in helping to drive economic growth to his neighbors. The hesitation of having an arcade in the plaza quickly dissipated as restaurants and other stores started recognizing the wristbands Arcade Monsters customers wear dining and shopping in their establishments. You can see Ravelo’s pride and excitement most when talks about the sense of community he has built around the business. He talks proudly of watching families enjoy an evening out, and watching people who walk in as strangers return as friends to meet up and play games.
Arcade Monsters is open 7 days a week and Ravelo is still adjusting to the long hours, opening the business at 2:00 PM and not leaving for home until 3:00 AM. He credits his coursework at Florida Tech for helping to prepare him for this venture. He specifically remembers a course that included business simulations and how that hands-on ‘real-world’ approach gave him a sense of what it would take to own his own business.
Looking ahead, Ravelo hopes to open another location in Orlando; he has 100 more games in storage just waiting to be played. The challenge of owning a business fits well with Ravelo’s desire to continue to push himself to learn new things; Ravelo and his dad work on the games themselves. “I was a business major, but lately I feel like a gaming engineer.” said Ravelo.