BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As The Who song goes, He’s a pinball wizard/There has to be a twist.
Peter Rose’s turnaround of an aging Brooklyn storefront laundry is working just like magic. And it’s the silver ball that’s keeping things rolling.
At his Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball, stainless steel front loaders and stack dryers are upstaged by coin-op machines of a different breed, offering playtime with Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson and a ride with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
For game aficionados, the rare Big Bang Bar, circa 1996 from Capcom, awaits in pristine condition alongside Bally’s 1992 hit The Addams Family and Williams’ 1997 classic Medieval Madness.
I found myself in the trendy Greenpoint neighborhood in mid-August and discovered it’s hip to hang out at the laundry on a Saturday night. The summer heat wave had taken its toll on wash patron volume, and those who did venture in quickly retreated to the rear bar oasis via a stack dryer. You read that right — a stack dryer. There’s no password required to access Rose’s speakeasy, but you do need to pick the right tumbler.
“The entrance had to be a joke and what’s more obvious than a dryer door,” he quips, yanking the top handle, swinging open the stainless steel-clad doorway while pointing down to the lower grip where passage is provided to his free-roaming labradors, Scrapple and Choco.
Behind the faux dryer lies a bar and pinball emporium where natural wood and exposed brick contrast with backlit works of art showcasing more than two dozen of the most sought-after games standing toe-to-toe where dryer tumblers and folding tables once lined up.
Moonlight is drawn in at the back atrium, casting a glow on players performing a well-executed “drop stop” or “flip trap.” The gaming theme carries through to the washroom where a wall-mounted pinball flipper serves duty as the toilet flusher and an antique mirror is illuminated by play-field pop bumpers.
“This is truly a pinball bar, not a bar with pinball,” Rose emphasizes.
Not to be overshadowed, the immaculate — albeit intimate — 23-machine laundry space at the front of the house is adorned with decorative lighting fixtures hanging below a high canopy of wainscoting panels and crown molding trim.
Sunshine’s funky fusion of bubbles and bumpers is as much about Rose himself as it is a testament to his determination to preserve a quaint neighborhood self-service laundry amid rapid urban gentrification.
“What I brought in were amenities I deem pleasant and enjoyable that I would want if I were doing laundry,” he explains. “Dogs, humor, art and pinball make me smile.”
Part 2 on Thursday: Taking on in-unit and centralized laundry facilities