MONTEREY – A new family entertainment center has debuted on Cannery Row offering kids a place to play and parents a place to relax between exploring attractions along the Monterey Peninsula.
“I felt Cannery Row lacked a place for families to experience time together,” said Christina Riddoch, co-owner of the business along with her husband Barrie.
It’s about family time and giving them a place to have a snack and a drink or whatever, before they decide what to do or where to go next on Cannery Row, she said. It gives them a chance to regroup, catch their breath and recharge.
“Oscar’s Playground” is named for another attraction that once graced Cannery Row – Oscar Hossenfelder’s Edgewater Packing Company. Owners Christina and Barrie Riddoch both visited the former Cannery Row attraction that had a carousel as the centerpiece, when they were young.
“We both went there and have fond memories,” she said. “We’re trying to recreate that atmosphere for families and especially kids again.”
Riddoch said one of the other businesses the couple owns and operates – Escape Room 831 on Cannery Row – has shown her how much families appreciate the opportunity to have these bonding experiences. The couple has two other escape-room venues also on Cannery Row.
Riddoch said her memories are more about a feeling of something that was fun. Both she and her husband had the experience of Oscar Hossenfelder’s in their own time and in their own way before their paths would cross years later as adults, when they would meet and develop a relationship that would culminate in the two getting married.
“You talk about it, and try to tell people about it, but you can never explain it completely until you experience it on your own,” she said. “I wanted us to create a magical space for families to create their own memories.”
Riddoch said a good example is of a friend who recently visited Oscar’s Playground and in the end said, “I get it!”
Oscar’s Playground occupies the third floor of the building at 685 Cannery Row where Blue Fin Billiards once was.
Overlooking Cannery Row with views out to the Monterey Bay, Oscar’s offers more than a dozen arcade games from old-school favorites to modern releases, several escape games, claw machines with prizes, skee ball, and selfie stations, to name a few.
The lounge area includes big-screen televisions, plush couches and beanbag chairs. There is a special-events room for private parties, team-building events, or nonprofit fundraisers.
The 11,000-square-foot venue offers grab-and-go snack food, sodas, and beer from Alvarado Street Brewery, but Riddoch said the facility has a kitchen and future plans include offering food service and adding local wines to the fare.
Riddoch said the owners will look at what needs will come in the future and they will work to fill that need.
The family entertainment center on Cannery Row has been open for a couple of weeks now and Riddoch said there are plans for a grand opening likely for the end of August.
“I want people to come to Oscar’s Playground when they have family in town to create new memories together, especially after what we’ve all been through,” she said. “It’s simple in a sense, we want to give people a place to come together and experience family.”