Connect with us

Play

“Greatest waiting room in Short North,” Pinball league gets new, cheesy home

J.R. McMillan

Published

on

There’s still something rebellious about that little silver ball.

Just ask John Geiger, founder of Arcade Super Awesome, whose pinball obsession heralded a local revival of the once-contraband contraptions. Historically maligned by moral crusaders as another form of gambling, even outlawed in some cities during the Prohibition Era, the recent rise of so-called “barcades” is an apropos postscript for the birthplace of the temperance movement.

“I grew up in the arcades in Cleveland playing video games, but pinball was spotty. In the small towns outside of Cleveland, pinball was still illegal into the 90s,” Geiger recalled. “So I never really played pinball as a kid. But when I came to OSU, it was all over campus. That’s when I got the bug.”

An avid collector of classic and contemporary arcade games, the pivot to pinball inspired League Super Awesome, a weekly competition attracting world-class talent, now celebrating its 15th season and a new home at Melt Bar & Grilled in the Short North.

“Even going back to the early 90s, there were a lot of tournaments in Columbus. There’s an organization called the IFPA, the International Flipper Pinball Association, which is our governing body. If you look at the player numbers in Columbus, which indicate when you joined, you’ll find player numbers in the teens and 20s,” he explained. “My number is more than 20,000. That’s how long and how popular competitive pinball has been here.”

Much as disco begat breakdancing and video games supplanted pinball, console games nearly killed coin-ops altogether. But the social component they never replaced has been recently rediscovered by players looking for something Sony and Microsoft don’t sell.

“Pinball is more fascinating to me as a machine. The play is more complex and there’s that factor of randomness,” he revealed. “With arcade games there are patterns that repeat, but pinball has elements of skill and chance. It’s never the same game twice.”

Rube Goldberg would revel in the modern pinball movement, the clever combination of lights and kinetics elevated into a performance art exhibition open to anyone with a spare quarter.

“I’m very particular about curating games together by depth, style, theme, or era. There’s an order everyone doesn’t always see. It’s like a gallery and the placement of the paintings that only makes sense when you see them all together,” he explained. “You can have a collection of things, or you can have a gallery. But it wasn’t an arcade until I opened up my warehouse and people came to play.”

Photo by Hillary Jones

Geiger has been colonizing ever since with enclaves of pinball machines and arcade games throughout Columbus. But, the decision to wind down his space above Yellow Brick Pizza in Olde Towne East, followed days later by the surprise closure of Four String’s westside brewery and Grandview taproom left casual patrons and competitive players nervous about what was next.

“People contacted me worried about where we’d land. It was entirely unexpected, hearing how much they appreciated this community we built,” Geiger recalled. “But I also got a call from Don Johnson, who is kind of my counterpart in Cleveland, organizing league play and the pinball and arcade convention up there. He connected me with Matt Fish, the owner of Melt, and it was a perfect fit.”

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

There are lots of stories about how surprisingly small Columbus can be, and this is one of them. Geiger and Fish quickly figured out they both used to be in bands together in Cleveland decades ago. Never the same band, but definitely the same scene. And over the course of my own conversation with Geiger, we discovered the offices of our respective tech startups were right across the hall from each other nearly as long ago in the old Weisheimer Mill that was the birthplace of Arcade Super Awesome.

“Pinball really fit our punk rock brand,” explained Fish, whose burgeoning Ohio-born empire of grilled cheese eateries first expanded into the Columbus market in 2013. “Last year, Don approached us about putting pinball in a couple of locations in Cleveland in some of our unused space and hosting league play. Now we’re part of that community in Columbus.”

The ample waiting area created for Melt’s robust opening crowds received a retrofit. New electrical lines were required to provide sufficient power for more than a dozen games, with plenty of room left for league nights that often attract enough players from around the state to rival the number of restaurant patrons.

“League Super Awesome brings in players from all over Ohio. I’ve seen the same players from Columbus competing in Cleveland the following week,” Fish noted. “Between Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, we have one of the largest pinball communities in the country. Most people don’t know Ohio has the highest number of ranked pinball players in the world.”

League play at the Short North location is every Thursday with monthly tournaments. Like any league sport, the minutiae of matches and eliminations may be intimidating to the uninitiated, but the play itself shouldn’t be.

“With pinball, gender doesn’t matter. Skill level does,” explained Fish. “The women’s tournament creates an opportunity for new players to learn from more experienced players in a comfortable environment that encourages entry into a male-dominated sport. But everyone is welcome for league nights and all-player tournaments.”

Though only a month in, the partnership already shows signs of cross-pollination—with more pinball players introduced to Melt, and restaurant-goers equally intrigued by the arcade. (It also doesn’t hurt to have Killer Queen, the beloved 10-player platform game, attracting its own cult following back to the hive.)

“When you walk by Melt and see these glowing pinball machines in there—not just one or two, but a whole room of pinball—you want to come in and check it out,” noted Fish. “It’s the greatest waiting room in the Short North.”

For details on League Super Awesome, visit arcadesuperawesome.com. For more on Melt Bar & Grilled, visit meltbarandgrilled.com.

Continue Reading

list

Ultimate Columbus Summer Bucket List

614now

Published

on

Hello and welcome to summertime! Today is the longest day of the year—plenty of time for you to sit down with your family and/or friends to map out your bucket list for this summer. Or…you could get a start on ours!

We’ve put together the ultimate list of summer activities in Columbus to ensure you have a summer full of fun. Just remember to wear sunscreen!

Go berry picking

Nothing tastes better than something you’ve worked for. And nothing tastes sweeter than something picked right from the dirt. Don the sun hats and sturdy shoes because we’re about to put you to work for your fruit! Here are more than 20 farms offering U-pick berry programs for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches in central Ohio.

Support local growers at neighborhood farmers’ markets

Do you know where your produce is from? Odd are if you don’t purchase them straight from a farmer, you’ve got no clue. Fuel your summer with goods pulled right from central Ohio dirt at local farmers’ markets!

Score a beer mug at ComFest

Besides epic memories, the best takeaway from ComFest is always the brightly-color plastic beer mug. Just remember to drink responsibly! Click here to read about the recent drama that went down with ComFest.

Celebrate freedom at Red White & Boom

Columbus’ biggest Fourth of July celebration will be returning to downtown on July 3 for the largest fireworks display in the Buckeye State. Arrive early for the parade and stay late for the party!

Spend a day at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

This one is an absolute must. There’s nothing like a warm summer day spent taking in the amazing animals at one of the best zoos in the country. Make sure to wave at the polar bears for us!

Gaze at the stars at John Glenn Astronomy Park

The John Glenn Astronomy Park is dedicated to sparking an interest in science, learning, and exploration by sharing with visitors the wonders of the sky, both day and night. Make sure to plan a trip to JGAP on a clear night to gaze at the wonderment of our universe.

Take in an outdoor movie

NightLight 614, a 21+ social outdoor film series on the banks of the Scioto featuring some of Columbus’s Best local food trucks, and craft beer & wine. Easton’s Movies by Moonlight series is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a lineup bigger and better than ever!

NightLight 614

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Spend a day at the drive-in

Since the 1950s, the South Drive-In at 3050 S. High St. has been Columbus premier destination for late night, big screen movie showings under the stars. And since the 1970s, it’s been the largest central Ohio location for…flea markets? Yes, indeed. Click here to read more!

Eat as much ice cream as humanly possible

Ice Cream is a pillar of summer. But where to begin? We think this list of the best alt ice cream shops in Columbus would be a sweet place to start.

Chow down at the Jazz & Rib Festival

If you’re not elbow-deep in BBQ sauce at least one time this summer, you’re not eating correctly. There is absolutely no better place to put your manners aside and let your carnivorous nature shine than at the Jazz & Rib Festival. Hot ribs, cool jazz.

Stay afloat at Trapper John’s

Leash up the pooch and buckle up your life jacket for an afternoon at Trapper John’s Canoe Livery! Enjoy canoeing, kayaking and tubing on the State and National Scenic Big Darby Creek.

Chill on some patios

Ditch the AC for once and take advantage of these few fleeting months when Ohio offers a tolerable climate. We’ve got dog-friendly patios, High Street patios, NW Columbus patios, seven perfect patio pairings, and, of course, the best drinking patio as voted on by you!

Grab the perfect pic at a rooftop bar

Columbus is quickly becoming a rooftop bar city. With the recent additions from Lincoln Social, Juniper, and VASO, we’ve got eight high-up drinking establishments you need to patronize this summer.

Bonus: All The Way Up: My experience at Lincoln Social rooftop

Lincoln Social

Have the perfect picnic

The grass is lush, the butterflies are flying, and the sun is shining—the perfect al fresco dining experience. We’ve put together pairings of the city’s top places to fill up your basket accompanied by the best nearby park for the picnic of your dreams!

Sing along to a free show at Columbus Commons

Each summer, the Columbus Commons is your destination for free live music. From local bands like Doc Robinson, to national acts like Boyz II Men, the outdoor amphitheater is where you need to be.

Pitch a tent

The campers, RVS, and pop-up tents will be returning to the outdoors this summer, serving as a home away from home for those looking to escape the city for a few days. It’s time to get outdoors, enjoy nature, roast some marshmallows over the fire, and get off the grid if not for a couple moments of bliss.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Cannonball into a pool

Leave your layers and insecurities at home, because it’s time to give the pool whatever body you’ve got! Just remember to pack the good snacks, okay? Click here for 30 Columbus pools to beat the heat.

Let the kids loose at splash pads around town

Splashpads: Free and fun water spraygrounds without the worry of deep bottoms or high dives. We don’t know about you but to us, that seems like a home run, nay, grand slam. This summer, diversify your cool down routine by hanging at one of Columbus’ many exciting splashpads.

Awe at the beauty of Franklin Park Conservatory

Did you know Admission to Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is FREE to all residents of Franklin County, the first Sunday of every month, before 5 pm. And did you know FPC has a farmers’ market? Plan your trip now!

Stop and smell the roses at the Whetstone Park of Roses

The Whetstone Park of Roses is just begging for you to stop and smell. It’s the perfect place to pitch your hammock, take photos, and to enjoy the beauty of one of the largest public rose gardens in the U.S.

Sunbathe at Alum Creek Beach

It may not be the white sand beaches of Mexico, but we’ll take what we can get. This public beach can be your seaside vacation if you have an imagination and tons of salty pretzels. A beach is a beach, right?!

Take your dog for a dip

We can’t be sure what dogs dream, but we’d imagine it’s a lot of neon yellow tennis balls, frisbees, bones, and playing fetch in ice cold water. Make your pup’s dream come true this summer with these awesome places to take your dog for a dip.

Walnut Woods Metro Park

Eat 10 cent hot dogs at a Clippers Dime-a-Dog Night

Dime-a-Dog Nights are an important staple of summer, especially on the firework nights. But you can’t go into this eating excursion without a game plan! Check out our Columbus Clippers Dime-a-Dog Night Survival Guide to expertly navigate your hot dog hay day.

Continue Reading

Play

Local Alex Coleman making the most of opportunities with Columbus Destroyers

Mitch Hooper

Published

on

“I love being here. These are my streets, this is my city.”

Alex Coleman is a Columbus local. He grew up right here in the city and attended Eastmoor Academy High School. Throughout school he maintained 4.0 GPA and led his team to the state championship. Though they ultimately lost that game, he was named the MVP. Everything seemed primed for a successful career on the field and he had hoped for that scholarship offer from Ohio State, but that offer never came. Looking back on it now, Coleman, now a wide receiver for the recently relaunched Arena Football League team the Columbus Destroyers, said that was fuel to his fire to work harder, but through trials and tribulations comes perspective.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

The AFL is unlike most leagues in sports. With the setup of the field literally butting up to the stands, the fans are able to get in on the action as close as safely possible. In between plays or before kick offs, fans can chat with the athletes on the field. If a football makes it into the stands, the lucky person who caught it is now going home with a free souvenir—try that at an Ohio State game and you’ll have an usher tackling you like Joey Bosa in no time. And after the games, fans can stick around to go on the field and meet the team. If your little one is especially into sports, imagine the look on their face as they play catch with a player on the team. There’s no question here: the AFL is more than just football—it’s a community builder. And that’s why Coleman is taking his opportunity to return home so seriously.

“I come from a hard-working family, but we didn’t know anything about athletics,” Coleman explained. “When you look for some type of figure to motivate you and push you in the right direction, I think that’s where I fell short coming out of high school.”

He committed to Ashland University and eventually transferred to Capital University where he kept that same mentality for maintaining school and athletics, and graduated with a degree in Communications Studies, balancing the act of academics and athletics without a mentor. Now that he’s back in the city that helped shape him, he’s looking to serve as that role model he needed when he was growing up. It’s a way to break the chain for him and others growing up in similar situations—a method for nurturing the next generation.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

“Everybody loves a Cinderella story, but it’s often not like that,” Coleman said.

(And for the record, even Cinderella had the help of a fairy godmother. Didn’t think you’d see this factoid in a sports story, did ya?)

For Coleman, actions speak louder than words. Throughout his career, he’s been told he’s too small for the wide receiver position, as he stands at 5-foot-9-inches tall. Recruiters and reports all said if he were a few inches taller, he’d be a must-grab for many universities. Instead of letting those words dictate his career, he’s out to prove them wrong. In the high school championship game where they lost, he stole the limelight with three touchdowns and the MVP trophy. Last season with the Carolina Havoc, there was some debate on whether Coleman should be in the starting lineup. The next game he scored four touchdowns—with the last one being the game winner. Coleman was solidified in the lineup, and the Havoc are now reigning champs of the American Arena Football league.

This mantra of  “do more, say less” finds a new chapter with his arrival in Columbus. Again, Coleman finds himself behind the eight ball vying for a starting position. For him, it’s not a matter of if, but when. And when that day comes, Coleman said he knows he’ll have to make the most of the opportunity because he never knows if it’ll be his last. That’s another sentiment Coleman is trying to drive home with young athletes as well. Whether it be injuries, grades, off-the-field antics, or simply just not making the cut, tomorrow is never promised in football. He said athletes have to be prepared for plan B, C, or even Z.

It’s easy to say something to a kid, but to actually be an example to them means even more,” Coleman explained. “Kids are much more mature in terms of their train of thought so a lot of kids are going to question me like, ‘Why should I do it if you didn’t?’ ”

Since arriving in Columbus, Coleman has been working with youth on the developmental side. While he sees the importance of coaching on the field, his interest is more in getting young people prepared with the fundamentals so they have the tools available to work efficiently. Not only does this help shape athletes for high school and beyond, it helps coaches recognize the players taking extra steps plus, gives a stronger foundation to build off. He’s also made a return to some of his old stomping grounds to give advice and expertise at Eastmoor High School, as well as Capital. Coleman said it only takes one person to start a change and create a village, and so far, it seems he’s on the right path.

The Columbus Destroyers play at Nationwide Arena. For more information on tickets plus the schedule, check out columbusdestroyers.com.

Continue Reading

Play

20+ U-pick berry farms to enjoy fruits of your labor

614now

Published

on

Nothing tastes better than something you’ve worked for. And nothing tastes sweeter than something picked right from the dirt.

Don the sun hats and sturdy shoes because we’re about to put you to work for your fruit!

Here are more than 20 farms offering U-pick berry programs for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and peaches in central Ohio.

U-pick Strawberries

  • Circle S Farms
    • 9015 London Groveport Rd. Grove City, OH 43123.
    • 614-878-9462 for hours and availability
  • Doran’s Farm Market
    • 5462 Babbitt Rd., New Albany
    • 614-855-3885 to check availability.
    • Hours: 8am- 7pm Mon-Thurs and 8am- 6pm Fri- Sun.
    • $2.29/pound
  • Granny B. Farms
    • 7201 Tucker Rd, Centerburg, OH 43011.
    • 614-668-5251.
    • Saturday-Tuesday from 9-6, weather and crop depending.
    • $3.50/quart or $24 per flat.
  • Hann Farms
    • 4600 Lockbourne Rd, Columbus, OH 43207
    • 614-491-0812.
    • Cash and check only
  • Mitchell’s Berries LLC
    • 9331 Mitchell Dewitt Rd. Plain City, Ohio
    • 937-243-0635
    • Monday from 8:30-11:30am as berries are available, call number above for additional picking times
    • $2.60/pound
  • Yutzy’s Farm Market
    • 6010 Converse Huff Rd, Plain City, Ohio
    • 614-873-3815
    • Call for availability of picking
    • $2.25/pound

U-pick Raspberries

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

U-pick Blueberries

U-pick Blackberries

U-pick Cherries

U-pick Peaches

  • Lynd’s Blue Frog Farm
    • 5499 Sportsmanclub Rd., Johnstown
    • 740-927-8559
    • Projected u-pick season starts mid-July
  • Legend Hills Orchard
    • 11335 Reynolds Rd, Utica
    • 740-892-3090
    • Mon- Sat from 9am- 5pm and Sunday from 12- 5pm
    • Check availability on Facebook
  • Branstool Orchards
    • 5895 Johnstown Utica Rd, Utica
    • 740-892-3989
    • $1.50/pound
    • Mon- Satfrom 9am- 5pm and Sunday from 10am- 4pm
Continue Reading
X