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Seattle arcade thinks on its feet, introduces touchless pinball

Add-a-Ball Amusements in Fremont has adapted to coronavirus pandemic precautions with a new innovation — pinball with pedals.

Add-a-Ball Amusements in Fremont has been a neighborhood favorite for 10 years and their latest innovation might just be the key to their survival through the coronavirus pandemic.

For years Add-a-Ball was known for having the largest collection of vintage arcade games and pinball machines in the city.

Things came to a screeching halt eight months ago.

Co-owner Brad Johnsen says they closed the business before the official orders to do so were announced.

“We were uncomfortable with the news around the virus and shut our doors in early March,” Johnsen said.

The once busy basement arcade bar has been dormant since then.

It was an off-the-cuff idea by an employee that sparked their next chapter.

“Our genius employee, Alex…AKA Sleepy…came up with the idea of putting pedals on a pinball machine. Using all foot operated controls.” 

Two days later they had a prototype and today they officially re-opened the business with a curious new invention that customers were eager to try.

The side buttons on the pinball machines are gone and a simple barstool gives players a chance to sit and play pinball with their feet. The start button, the launch and the left and right paddles are all controlled by foot. 

The touch-free version of pinball was what Add-a-Ball needed to welcome the neighborhood back inside — at 50% capacity, of course.

That's about 50 people for Add-a-Ball, but it is a welcome stream of revenue for the once-packed arcade.

Most of the games are gone and social distant tables and booths fill the back room for a new restaurant-style environment.

Add-a-Ball takes great pride in offering fine wines paired with “gas station foods.”

Cheese balls are served with chopsticks for the no touch twist and you can enjoy a pizza pocket in the “Point Break” lounge adorned with a Patrick Swayze mural.

Not a bad business pivot for a local favorite on the ropes.