Pins Mechanical arcade brings "adult playground" to the South Side | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pins Mechanical arcade brings "adult playground" to the South Side

click to enlarge A line of colorful pinball machines line a wall at Pins Mechanical.
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Pins Mechanical
The South Side Works welcomed its most recent tenant with Pins Mechanical, an arcade bar that caters to fans of pinball, vintage video games, duckpin bowling, and other pastimes. In a city with a growing number of similar concepts, from Shorty’s in the North Side to Coop De Ville in the Strip District, players may wonder what sets this new kid on the block apart.

When Pittsburgh City Paper visited the newly opened business one Sunday afternoon, the answer became clear – unlimited free play. While customers pay $1 a pop for pinball and various fees for duckpin, ping-pong, and bocce, the 40 vintage arcade games, as well as Skee-Ball and other offerings, are completely free to play.

Troy Allen, founder and CEO of Rise Brands, the company behind Pins, says the business’ appeal extends beyond freebies.

“For us, Pins always has been and always will be about nostalgia,” Allen tells City Paper in an email interview. “We are tapping into the consumers who have fond memories of the carefree days playing their favorite arcade game as a kid or bowling with their best friends on the weekend. We capture the best times of childhood under one roof.”

That roof encompasses a 30,000-square-foot, two-level facility that also includes three bars, lounges outfitted with couches and giant televisions, and outdoor areas with fire pits and lawn games.
click to enlarge A group of people sit in an outdoor area on the second floor of Pins Mechanical on a sunny day.
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Outdoor area at Pins Mechanical
Pins took over some of what used to be the SouthSide Works Cinema movie theater, which closed in 2020 as part of a major makeover for the open-air South Side shopping and entertainment district. Rise Brands, based in Columbus, Ohio, opened the Pittsburgh Pins on Oct. 20, adding to eight other Pins locations throughout the country.

While all the games are family-friendly, Pins, like other barcades, focuses on adults looking for a good time with friends or a fun date night. Guest under 21 are not allowed after 8 p.m., and some of the signage in the space contains suggestive jokes, mostly around the term “balls.”

Overall, Pins is for the kids at heart. This is evident in a cocktail menu defined by fun, retro names and candy-forward flavors, as well as food like peanut butter-and-strawberry jelly Uncrustables and cheese or pepperoni Hot Pockets.

“But for those looking for more than a quick snack, Pins allows people to bring in food and snacks from the many fantastic restaurants and food trucks in the area,” says Allen. “We welcome people to enjoy their food inside Pins while, if they want, having one of our specialty cocktails or one of 30 beers on tap – 10 of which come from local breweries.”
click to enlarge A young girl in a pink shirt and jeans throws a ball down a duckpin bowling lane at Pins Mechanical.
CP Photo: Amanda Waltz
Duckpin bowling at Pins Mechanical
Allen stresses that, no matter what, guests will have a multi-sensory experience, where they will see, feel, hear, and taste the old-school entertainment vibe at Pins.

“From the crashing of duckpins on the lane that may make you think of a childhood birthday party and the musical sounds coming from the classic arcade games to the flavors in our signature cocktails that have playful touches like rock candy or a caramel apple sucker, Pins is like an adult playground,” he adds.

Pins Mechanical. 407 Cinema Drive, South Side.