Liquidation of shuttered Playtime Pizza brings roughly $320,000 at auction

Auctioneers take bids on electronic games at a liquidation auction for Playtime Pizza's assets. The family entertainment center was shutdown in June due to failure to pay sales tax. (Photo: KATV)

Playtime Pizza has been in a permanent time-out since June, after the Department of Finance and Administration shut down the family entertainment center in June for failure to pay state sales taxes. Wednesday, nearly everything inside the restaurant and arcade went on the chopping block in an effort to repay the state and creditors.

There were close to 300 auction lots, nearly half were electronic games that sold for a fraction of what they were originally bought for. Playtime Pizza's famous indoor go-carts were sold for just $15,000; nothing compared to the roughly $110,000 it originally cost the entertainment center to buy, according to former lead game technician Mark Herrick.

""It was an interesting experience," recalled Herrick about his seven-year tenure at Playtime. "I liked working with people, and you just saw a large variety of different people and I just thought this was a pretty good place to come."

Herrick ended up losing his job when the state closed Playtime Pizza. He wasn't aware of how bad the situation was involving Playtime's owner's failure to pay the state sales taxes. DF&A started putting tax liens on the business back in 2012 according to court records. Today those tax liens total close to $1.5 million.

Terasa Risman was the general manager of Playtime Pizza from 2008 to 2012. She got out when she got a call from the IRS informing her of the owner's failure to pay sales tax.

"I was a little concerned at that point and it just kind of got worse, so I finally decided to get out of the business which was very sad for me because I loved this place," lamented Risman. "This place was like my baby, you know? I had so much fun here."

Risman came to the auction to relive some old memories, but also to place some bids. She and her husband ended up walking away with a few games they'll bring to their lake house in Hot Springs.

The majority of those that came to bid owned other entertainment centers, both locally and across the country.

"I came out here to buy arcade games primarily to enhance and upgrade my arcade," said Marci Hall, owner of Big Rock Mini Golf & Fun Park in Little Rock.

Hall said she ended up getting a lot of birthday party bookings when Playtime was forced to shut down. She said she didn't complain about that.

But it wasn't all for the games. Many came to buy restaurant equipment like Doug Meyer. Meyer said he's in the process of opening Little Rock's first vineyard, Dusty Tractor Vineyards, which isn't far from where Playtime Pizza is located. A couple items in Playtime's kitchen caught his eye.

"There's a pizza prep table," mentioned Meyer. "We intend to do wood-fire pizza. Goes really well with wine."

The most expensive items that sold was the Highway 66 mini-bowling alley which got into a major bidding war with 75 bids being entered for the item. The complete set ended up selling for $77,500.

At the end of the day, the amount of money collected from the liquidation sale didn't even come close to covering the tax liens and what else is owed to Playtime's creditors. The auction company, Bill Ramsey & Associates, gets a portion of the approximately $320,000 in auction proceeds; the rest goes to court where it'll be decided by a judge where the money goes.

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