Biz Beat

Store all about fun and gaming

If want to stay on top of the latest gaming trends so that you at least know what your kids are doing, forget it. And don't even entertain the idea of playing with them, unless you like losing.

Trust me. When my 21-year-old son was home from college, he and his friends invited me to play Halo 3. Hey, I played combat in my back yard all the time when I was growing up. I should be able to hold my own playing Halo 3, a high-tech shooter game. An hour later, I had been blown away so many times the computer invoked the mercy rule and locked me out. But Tyson and his friends had fun using me as cannon fodder -- love you guys.

Thanks to Ryan and Brooke Taylor, you don't have to be a computer game victim in your own home anymore. The Taylors recently opened LAN 5150, a PC and console gaming center, at 2400 Coffee Road, Suite 2, in Modesto. It's in the strip shopping center on the southeast corner of Coffee and Floyd Avenue, between RN Market and the Waffle Shop.

Open to gamers age 10 and older, LAN 5150 is envisioned as a safe place for parents to bring their gamers. The Taylors keep a close watch on players to ensure everyone behaves, even enforcing a ban on players' profanity. Parents check in their kids at the front desk and can place restrictions on the types of games they play. They pay by the hour for game time.

Players get user names and accounts, so they can log into the various computers and consoles. Any unused game hours just get rolled over to a player's next visit. Although the basic cost is $4 per hour, players can get discount memberships and day passes. Kids can even get credit for good grades -- a free half hour for a B and a free hour for an A.

The Xbox 360 (three units), PS3 (two) and Wii (one) gaming systems are hooked up to 47-inch LCD flat screens. The center's 15 computers display games on 22-inch monitors. Gamers will find such popular titles as Rock Band, Madden NFL '08, Call of Duty 4, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and, my personal favorite, Halo 3. Snacks, soft drinks and some used games are sold at the center. The Taylors conduct regular tournaments centered around various games, providing pizza for the participants and sometimes cash prizes. They lease out the entire space for birthday parties and special events.

The Taylors, who had worked in the mortgage industry, decided to open the business after the real estate market downturn. Brooke Taylor saw it as an opportunity to balance work and family as her grandmother, Joanne Monaco, did as the longtime former owner of Monaco's restaurant in Modesto. For Ryan Taylor, a lifelong gamer, it was a chance to turn his passion into a business, LAN 5150: LAN, which stands for local area network or linked computer systems, and 5150, which is a law enforcement radio code for mentally challenged. In other words, LAN 5150 means crazy about gaming.

Great, maybe I can hone my skills there, so the next time my son and his pals need a patsy, I'll surprise them and last 30 seconds -- instead of 15. Nahhh. Anybody want to play checkers? Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 575-2000.

Elsewhere on the Business Beat:

What it is: Edward Jones at

3020 Floyd Ave., Suite 115, in Modesto. It's in Village One Plaza. Phone, 551-5204. Web site,

What it does: Edward Jones serves the financial needs of long-term investors. It provides diversified investment opportunities that include a broad mix of municipal, government and corporate bonds as well as mutual funds, common stock and tax-advantaged securities. Edward Jones helps individuals achieve long-term financial objectives including retirement, education, estate considerations, catastrophic risk, homeownership and emergency funds management.

Who runs it: Derald Lahti is the licensed financial adviser, and Shelley Thies is the branch office administrator. Edward Jones was established in 1922 and has locations through the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The Modesto office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.

What makes it special: Edward Jones focuses on building one-on-one relationships with clients to offer personalized attention and focused financial advice.

Compiled by Jillian Hanks,

Bee Newsroom Assistant