'Pinbar' in Port Townsend attracts would-be pinball wizards
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The pinbar reflects a growing pinball comeback throughout the nation, according to co-owner Miranda Boyer.
“There are a lot of these places popping up, so we wanted to open one here,” she said.
“Tourists are great, and they will be part of our business, but we wanted to provide a place for locals to hang out, especially during the winter.”
Although pinball finesse might best be described in song by The Who's “Pinball Wizard” from the 1969 rock opera “Tommy,” the Port Townsend establishment at 213 Taylor St. is called Middletown Dreams after a 1985 song by the Canadian rock band Rush.
It is open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from noon to 1 a.m. on the weekends.
“Pinball parlors with video games were huge in the '80s and '90s when home systems weren't that good,” said Paul Rice, Boyer's business partner.
“When they improved, people stopped going to arcades and pinball kind of disappeared,” Rice said.
Now, people have decided they miss the experience of the rolling silver ball.
“This is a new old thing; people want to get back to this,” Boyer said.
“It's more organic [than video games]. It's tactile.
“People get to press a button and tie into what's happening visually.”
“A lot of people in my demographic who grew up playing in arcades are now of drinking age,” Rice, 30, said.
“This is a place where they can get away from the kids and still be kids.”
Boyer and Rice met earlier this year during a karaoke night at Sirens, discovering they also shared a love for pinball.
The idea to open a local pinbar struck them while playing pinball at the Uptown Pub.
They now have access to nearly 20 machines, which will be swapped out periodically to keep things fresh.
Keeping in mind that the under-21 pinball crowd can't enter Middletown Dreams, they are looking to place machines in the Boiler Room and other locations.
The Middletown Dreams machines cost 50 cents for a three-ball game, while some machines cost more — 75 cents — or provide five balls.
High scores can earn free games, but there is a random element.
“You can get the worst score in the world and still win a free game if the last 10 numbers of your score match to a random number at the end of the game,” Rice said.
Rice said most of the clientele is around his age, with an occasional older customer.
“We had a couple in their 60s come in and say they weren't interested in drinking — but they really wanted to play pinball,” Rice said.
“We also offer nonalcoholic beverages. A lot of the people in my family are former drinkers.”
Port Townsend Main Street Executive Director Mari Mullen is enthusiastic about Middletown Dreams.
“This will be a great place for young people and people who are young at heart,” she said.
“It will be a destination because it's inviting, and it's great that it is open so late.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: November 12. 2012 5:49PM