By Christine Leonard
CALGARY – The thrill that accompanies pulling back the plunger and sending a little silver ball screaming up the rails is as universal as the sigh of satisfaction that comes with biting into a perfectly prepared sandwich. All the better when these two immensely gratifying activities are paired together. That’s exactly what local restaurateur and BBQ-guru Arlen Smith had in mind when he struck upon the notion of PinBar. a dynamic game and grain combo that will satiate your hunger for thumping bumpers and delicious tucker.
“The concept behind PinBar is fairly simple, a room that has great music playing, lots of pinball machines to keep you entertained, killer food including well-crafted sandwiches, appetizers and comfort food,” says Smith who is looking forward to launching his latest venture in late February. “People can expect a space that is playing great music, giving excellent service, has delicious food at a good value. PinBar is a treat for the senses, because nothing is more eye-catching than a row, or two, of pinball machines.”
“I’ve been working in bars since 1998,” he explains. “I took The Palomino Smokehouse over in 2012 and have been concentrating on two of my favorite things: live music and barbeque. Now i am going into this new space to carry on working with things i truly enjoy. In this case, pinball and great food.”
As the second-half of the fledgling establishment’s name implies, there is a pubtastic element to PinBar. The innovative Smith is looking forward to tempting his clientelle with a surprising selection of beverages designed to appeal to a wide-variety of pinball enthusiasts.
“PinBar will feature an extensive craft beer and cocktail list,” Smith confirms. “And, for the first time in a business I’ve been involved with, a great selection of non-alcoholic cocktails! We will also have Kombucha on tap, as well as two types of cold brew coffee.”
Does this mean that parents and the all-ages crowd have gained another haunt? Hell, yes!
“The target clientele is anyone who likes to have fun. We are trying our best, as with the other venues I am and have been a part of, to be totally inclusive to everyone. We will be family-friendly until 8pm Sunday to Wednesday and before 4pm Thursday to Saturday. So, people can bring their family down to play games and have some awesome food.”
Oh, we’re all about the food. Bonus play, PinBar’s masterfully-balanced menu promises to draw would-be pinball wizards away from the bright lights and chiming bells inside those glass cabinets.
“For the food end of things, we will be curing and making a bunch of items in-house and putting out the best cold and hot sandwiches in the city. The recipes are based off of some of my culinary favourites from around North America; a French dip a la Phillipe’s in Los Angeles, a pastrami sandwich inspired by Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh. We will also have a wonderful selection of main courses, for those who don’t want a sandwich and would prefer to have something not jammed between tasty slices of bread!”
Feeling adventurous? PinBar wants to feed your competitive spirit.
“We will have a ‘Challenge Sandwich’ that’s a total monster. If you eat the whole thing in 30 minutes it’s free!”
Good luck staggering back to the office after attempting that noon-hour feat!
“Hopefully people will want to come hang-out for lunch, stop in for happy hour and come party and play games all night long,” Smith continues. “The prime location on 17th Avenue and 4th Street is the crossroads of the restaurant scene of 4th and the nightlife of 17th, which is perfect for us as we are not only food but fun-focused, as well. We hope to get people in for the great food and to stay for the good times. That being said, we’ll have a more relaxed and low key ‘Rumpus Room’ area at the front of the bar for those who want to grab a booth and relax.”
Lounging with drink-in-hand is a worthy pastime in itself, but the allure of PinBar’s neon-hued machines is bound to get diner’s flipping-out for analog arcade amusements.
“There will be 18 games when we open our doors. I am a big fan of the games that feature the art of Dirty Donny (he is a close personal friend). I also recommend The Pabst Can Crusher and Aerosmith machines, but I would have to say that the Metallica game is probably my favourite. From the art to the soundtrack, in my opinion, it’s of the funnest games out there.”
Racking up points and downing frosty pints sounds simple enough, but according to Smith the flipside of hustling a good game of pinball comes down to hand-eye coordination and what the individual brings to the table.
“There really is only one way to become a ‘Wizard’ and that is practice, practice, practice.”
PinBar grand opening takes place 22 Feb. at 501-17th ave S.W. (Calgary)food, PinBar