LOGAN SQUARE — The new Logan Arcade will have more than 25 vintage pinball machines, 40-plus video games and about 20 beers on tap when it opens next Monday.
That's thanks to Logan Hardware owner Jim Zespy, a passionate games aficionado, and a team of techs who have lovingly restored old, junked games and pinball machines back to their near-original sheen.
Sometimes that means scrubbing layers of smoke stains off pinball boards, ordering lots of odd replacement parts and installing sheet after sheet of fresh glass panels to replace those scratched up from years of play.
"You open them up, and they just reek, and they're super dirty, and we have to buy extra parts — but we have fun resurrecting them and knowing they're not going to be thrown out," Zespy said.
Zespy's passion for the vintage games is clear. As an avid pinball machine collector, he is so immersed in the history that he rattles off names of game designers as if they were household names.
"This one's signed by Python Anghelo," he says, pointing to a pristinely restored PIN-BOT machine, before pointing out another machine he notes was designed by Dan Langlois.
Where he and his team can't totally rebuild a pinball machine or video game, they keep the artwork to put in light boxes for decoration to hang on the walls.
One example is the artwork for the video game Breakout, designed by perhaps a true household name, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.
All of these goodies and many more — such as the Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine signed by every cast member depicted on the backglass — will now share a roof with another salvaged gem, a '30s-era bar featuring 20 beer taps and stocked high with liquor.
Those who remember the old Logan Hardware space will recognize the original back game room, which is largely unchanged and still stocked with upright video games. Now, though, the whole front area that formerly held the record store goods is full of pinball machines and video games, too. Another, larger backroom now also has been opened up to fit more games.
Zespy also strived to restore the whole space to what it looked like when it was a hardware store.
"We ended up rehabbing it a lot, but we tried to keep it as original as possible," he said.
Logan Arcade, 2410 W. Fullerton Ave., will open this weekend for a sneak preview for friends and family and then to the public on Monday at 3 p.m.
Though the arcade will be for those 21 and older, younger button mashers will still find a rotation of their favorites in the new Logan Hardware a block west at 2532 W. Fullerton Ave.