Hamilton’s First Pinball Bar & Arcade Opens to Public Despite Restrictions, Limited Hours
By: Jeff Gambrell
HAMILTON – When Brad Baker opened his new business to the public this past Saturday, he probably never envisioned the grand unveiling would happen the way it did. Pinball Garage, an arcade-style bar featuring dozens of pinball machines, hosted a two-day preview event Saturday and Sunday at their 113 N. 3rd Street location. Originally slated for an April opening, the COVID-19 pandemic had different plans for his business. Businesses, including his, deemed “non-essential” by the State of Ohio were ordered to be closed to contain the potential spread of the virus. These restrictions have dampered his plans of not only hosting regular business hours but also delayed his proposed expansion. While the current events have forced him to adjust his plans, it has not prevented him from offering an amazing experience.
At this weekend’s preview launch, Baker sold two-hour time slot package bundles for Saturday and Sunday to limit the number of those in his establishment to allow for social-distancing. These $30 tickets included unlimited play of twenty-nine pinball machines (appropriately distanced from each other), food provided by All8Up, as well as unlimited refills of soft drinks. While Saturday’s crowd was lighter than anticipated which he credits to the nice weather and a delay on receiving his liquor license, Sunday was expected to be nearly sold-out. He will be reviewing Monday whether to continue to do weekend slots for the first few weeks or to possibly transition to a regular Wednesday through Sunday schedule.
With the near future uncertain due to COVID-19, Baker is striving to complete phase 2 of his business next year which includes the renovation of the back of his building and the addition of fifty more pinball machines and arcade games. In the meantime, he will be regularly switching out machines in the front to ensure a diverse allotment of entertainment so guests keep coming back. His family-friendly atmosphere offers so much for both adults and children including twenty-four beers soon to be available on tap, craft root beer, as well as a lower cabinet off to the side from the bar housing candy bars and snacks. Baker notes the layout of the building was intentionally designed allowing children to be comfortable moving about not feeling as though they are in a bar environment. Whether young or old, Pinball Garage offers something for those of all ages to enjoy.