Pinball Jones is preparing to open its second location at 1228 W. Elizabeth Street in the building that was formerly The Bar, with a grand opening set for April 8 at 3 p.m.
After a successful initial six years operating the Old Town Square pinball arcade at 107 Linden Street, owner and founder Kim Jones is ready to share her passion for pinball and retro arcade games with Campus West.
“It’s fun to create things,” Jones said. “I’m going to smile ear to ear when everything is done.”
Jones will continue to operate the first location in Old Town, which opened in 2011.
The previous owner of The Bar, which featured arcade games and competitive weeknight drink specials, sold the business earlier this month.
Jones says that like The Bar, the new pinball arcade will serve liquor and beer, and have specials to draw students in, but she plans to place a stronger emphasis on gaming.
“The games will be more of a spotlight than they were before,” she said. “I want to make them more of the focus.”
Games will range from pinball to pool, ski ball, air hockey and retro racer machines. Not only will there be many more games, but they will also be much better maintained than before, she said.
“You can have games in bars, but if they’re not operating properly then it’s no good,” Jones said. “It’s important to have someone you can go to and say, ‘hey, that game ate my quarter.’”
According to Jones, 10 to 12 games on average will break in a week, and fixing them every day is a big part of running an arcade.
The first Pinball Jones was a sort of passion project for Jones, who had been collecting pinball machines for years and renting them out to local bars and businesses.
She had been around the game for a long time, having worked at an arcade during college, buying her first machine in 2007.
“I knew it was going to be a problem because I already wanted another,” she said. “And then it broke, so I had to learn how to fix them too.”
Close to retiring from a long career law enforcement, Jones was ready to try something new. She decided to rent a 600-square-foot basement space in Old Town Square and open an arcade, thinking of it as a low-risk, fun project where she could share her love for gaming.
“I really didn’t need it to be my income—I needed it to be my fun,” she said. “And then of course, it totally caught on.”
Fueled by local nostalgia, young interest and downtown tourism, Pinball Jones was so successful that she decided to expand gradually into neighboring spaces. Today, the arcade is 3,000 square feet and serves beer.
“I can’t really say, going in, that I knew all of that was going to happen,” she said, admitting that she didn’t really have a business plan at first.
The most important thing for her was the relationship with the people who would come in to play.
“(Gaming) connects us in a lot of different ways. People come in and might not have anything in common besides playing the games, and that’s okay,” Jones said.
Scott Shepherd, owner of The Village Vidiot, says he is excited at the idea of a retro arcade coming to the area.
“New technology doesn’t make a game better,” he said. “The best games are usually the simpler games. I can’t wait.”
The new arcade will operate Tuesday through Sunday, from 3 p.m. to midnight. Light snacks like popcorn and chips will be available, but outside food will also be permitted.
Every Tuesday night, students with ID can enjoy free gameplay.
For more information on Pinball Jones, visit pinballjones.com
Collegian reporter Max Sundberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jmaxsun