A Retro Renaissance at Waterloo’s New Arcade Bar

An electrifying new venue has opened its doors in Waterloo.

Pin-up! Arcade Bar, located at 247 King St. N., is revitalizing the once popular pinball craze of the 1970s by combining a unique hybrid of retro games and savoury spirits. It does this while maintaining a vibrant, yet welcoming atmosphere.

These classic games are a forgotten craft that owner Che Curnew says have lost most of their attraction due to the high maintenance costs of machine upkeep, along with the introduction of video games which took over the market after entering arcades in the 1980s.

“I caught the pinball bug,” he says.

 Che Curnew leans over the counter at Pin-up! Arcade Bar (Photo: Josh Pederson)

Che Curnew leans over the counter at Pin-up! Arcade Bar (Photo: Josh Pederson)

A Wilfrid Laurier University alumnus, Curnew began his collection with the purchase of two pinball machines. Now, that collection includes 35 total units.

“Most of the pinball machines that you will see here came directly from my basement,” he says.

Curnew is confident that through his business model, he will be able to share his passion of pinball with the rest of the world, marketing to generations both old and new alike.

“We don’t operate like a normal arcade. In the past, machines were coin operated for use in a commercial environment. Instead of inserting a coin to play the machine, we’ve set the machines to free-play or rigged them so that you can have unlimited access and you just pay a $5 entrance fee,” he says.

 Photo: Josh Pederson

Photo: Josh Pederson

Anyone looking to reminisce on time spent at arcades as a child or even if it's the first time seeing a pinball machine up close, the Pin-up! Arcade Bar guarantees hours of thrills and excitement.

“We have people from the older generation who are nostalgic of their childhoods who are coming and they are bringing their kids with them so we are seeing a very mixed demographic and community support has been amazing,” say Curnew.

“It isn’t until around 9 p.m. where we turn into more of a bar setting and that’s where we are seeing lots of university students, people in their 20s and 30s for whom this is a little retro. It’s cool, it’s new, they like the bar scene and everyone seems to enjoy it.”

Pinball, while being by far the main attraction, is not the only option people have.

 Photo: Josh Pederson

Photo: Josh Pederson

“We also offer several classic arcade games which are available to play," he says. "Well known titles like Donkey Kong, Tron, Mortal Kombat, Q*bert and more. There is an Aliens shooting game, skee-ball and shuffleboard. All of which are included in the entrance fee."

Curnew says that Pin-Up! Arcade Bar has big plans for the future and shows no signs of slowing down its energetic pace.

“We rotate games frequently so there is always something new to try,” he says.

“There are also plans for some live-music performances. We have a great roster of entertainment lined up with our first karaoke show being held on February 24.”

 Photo: Josh Pederson

Photo: Josh Pederson

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