Pinball Garage: The Gaming Renaissance
Discover the top-rated pinball machines of all time!
Eat, drink and play pinball. The Pinball Garage has the vibe of a sports bar— offering food and a full bar— with the addition of over 30 pinball machines that are among the 50 top-rated pinball games of all time... as well as arcade games and even a cotton candy machine! A successful journey that started on the popular show Shark Tank led the owner Brad Baker to Hamilton to open this one-of-a-kind arcade.
The Gaming Renaissance
The game of Pinball is more popular than people may think it is. After dying out in the early 2000s, it made a huge comeback within the last ten years. "It's more popular now than it was in its heyday back in the 80s," Brad says.
Before opening Pinball Garage, Brad and his company VPCabs helped pioneer the technology behind digital pinball machines. Virtual Pinball allows people to play any pinball game ever made, all on one machine (read more about Brad's Shark Tank episode at the end of this blog!)
The Pinball Garage features all mechanical pinball machines; some of which were newly made by VPCabs, while others date back to the 90s. Among the 30 different games offered, they are all rated in the Top 50 in the world. Each machine is different, offering popular titles from Batman, Iron Maiden, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Simpsons, Star Wars, Stranger Things, and many more.
The Pinball Garage also features rarities like the Rick and Morty Pinball Machine, which is one of about 50 such machines in the world and only 3 are available for the public to play, as well as the Legends of Valhalla Pinball Machine, which only has six prototypes throughout the world and the other five are privately-owned.
"We've already had people come from more than six hours away to play this game, which is pretty cool," Brad says.
It was important to Brad that the arcade make a good impression and carry the most popular, high-quality machines available. Pinball Garage also has a variety of other popular arcade games and claw machines as well... including an incredible cotton candy machine! The pinball machines require around 2 – 4 credits to play; customers can purchase credits on a reloadable card.
Make Your Own Cotton Candy
Most recently, Pinball Garage has added a new machine to the arcade... where customers can design their own cotton candy!
The new cotton candy machine costs 22 credits, or about $5, and it's already been very popular. Customers can choose from over 20 different designs for their special treat, and then watch as the magic happens.
Some of the designs include hearts, flower bouquets, crystals, butterflies and more.
Both kids and adults alike love the new addition— check out the "Blue Emotion" cotton candy pictured above! Pinball Garage is always adding new fun to their arcade with different games and new treats.
Food + Drink
It's easy to see there is a lot of Hamilton pride throughout Pinball Garage. Brad does a great job of collaborating with other local businesses and sharing the local love through food, drinks and decor. The bar features a full menu of craft cocktails and a variety of special bourbons. They also offer 24 draft beers, one of which is a non-alcoholic draft root beer.
In addition to drinks and local beers, Pinball Garage serves delicious BBQ and pizza. The BBQ menu features pork sandwiches, brisket, chicken tenders and more. Customers also have the option to order pizza or hoagies from All8Up Pizza & Hoagies to be delivered while they play.
As the game of pinball continues to grow in popularity, the Pinball Garage becomes more of a desired destination. To experience the renaissance for yourself, make sure to put this place at the top of your list!
From Shark Tank to Success
Before his Shark Tank tale, Brad and his company VPCabs helped pioneer the technology behind digital pinball machines. His brother, who owns several popular arcades in the Cincinnati area, first introduced Brad to the idea and it developed from there. Coming from his own audio-video business, Brad started making virtual pinball machines to put in his brother's arcades. It wasn't long before other companies started asking him to make more and the business really took off. Brad applied to be on Shark Tank twice and he was accepted the second time; he appeared on Episode 28 of Season Seven.
"It's about six months of interviews," Brad explains. "The show gets about 100,000 applicants every year and they only tape about 175 of them."
He says the entire experience was wild, and nothing other than his business pitch was rehearsed.
"I was the first person of the day because my machines were so big that they had to set them up first," Brad says. "I ended up making a deal with Daymond, and after our deal officially closed, we ended up becoming pretty good friends."
As a native of the Hamilton and Fairfield area, Brad began manufacturing his virtual pinball machines in Fairfield four years ago, and then realized his growing company was in need of a larger space. When he decided to move his warehouse to Hamilton, Brad had no intentions of opening up a bar. He bought a building on Main St. which was most recently occupied by Jim's Auto Service Store, so there was a large storefront to the warehouse. With so many other successful businesses opening in the area, Brad's friends and the City of Hamilton urged him to consider opening a pinball arcade, bar or restaurant in the front of the building.
Brad combined all three ideas to open Pinball Garage.
113 N. Third Street | Hamilton, OH 45011