Orbit Pinball Lounge (7401 Hazel Avenue; 314-769-9954) opened its doors to the public in mid-May, providing a new hangout with plenty of nostalgia to boot for the Maplewood neighborhood.
At night, the darkened bar's warm glow and open door can be seen from the street. Inside, a welcome sign hand drawn in chalk awaits among a lustrous backdrop filled with dancing colored lights.
Those who were lucky enough to grow up in an age when mechanical-ball-and-paddle amusements originally debuted can relate to the decor. Classic pinball cabinets furnish the front half of the bar as do brightly lit tabletops and securely hung wall fixtures.
While the busy chatter of clinking steel balls, paddle flips and Skee-Ball rolls sound off subtlety from the game room, the bar itself and its surrounding padded leather seats still allow for quiet, candle-lit conversation and relaxation.
The bar forms a backward L-shape through the middle of the space, providing plenty of entry points to grab a refreshing drink from the bar staff, including owner Michael Stivers. He most recently tended bar at Herbie's Vintage 72 before deciding to open his first business inspired by Replay Lounge in Lawrence, Kansas.
The drink list includes a simple supply of bottled beers and mixers as well as a short wine list. Plenty of room for drink-menu expansion exists, but Orbit's formula for the moment targets simplicity and carries it out efficiently. Patrons can also expect food offerings of Dogtown Pizza and Billy Goat Chips in the near future.
Easily recognizable faces gracing the machines include Arnold Schwarzenegger's Jack Slater from Last Action Hero and the emaciated Crypt Keeper of Tales from the Crypt. Orbit's ten pinball tables star these characters alongside themed machines like Star Wars, Jurassic Park and The Simpsons.
Three Skee-Ball lanes also occupy the back corner of the game room. A Monday-night league featuring four-person teams runs in eight-week sessions for $20 a person. Prizes include anything from T-shirts to stuffed creatures crafted by Stivers himself.
Orbit Pinball Lounge's current operating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Check out Orbit Pinball Lounge's Facebook page for details.