Barcade Set to Open in Thunder Bay’s South Core

Story by Kelsey Raynard, Photo by Adrian Lysenko

When the historic Coo House (located at 135 Archibald Street North) came up for sale earlier in 2021, business partners Steve Vares and Andrew Young saw an opportunity they could not pass up. Built in 1898 by watchmaker George Coo, this designated heritage site has been used as a home, as a Christmas store, and as a restaurant; now, Vares and Young are proud to add pinball pub to this list as well.

As a part-owner of Savvy Amusements in Thunder Bay, Vares explains that buying this turn-key building provided the perfect chance to expand their existing business ventures and share their love of pinball with the wider community. “We absolutely loved the place,” he says. “We already have machines in quite a few establishments around town, but owning a bar, restaurant, or pub was never really on our radar until we started visiting legendary pinball ‘barcades’ and pubs across North America.” Taking inspiration from places like the Logan Arcade in Chicago and Tilt Toronto, Vares thought there was no reason why these couldn’t work in a place like Thunder Bay. Thus, the Tilted Turret Pinball Pub was born.

Previously occupied by the ExCuria Gastropub, the Coo house was completely renovated in 2015, making it an easy transition for Vares and Young. “There is such a unique history and design to this building. Compared to the north core, there aren’t as many places to go and hangout on the south side. We hope to change that,” Vares says. So what can customers of the Tilted Turret expect? “We will have 10–12 pinball machines, with the oldest from 1970 and the newest purchased just a few months ago,” he says. “We have completely revamped the menu, so there will be delicious pub food and local craft beers.”

With a tentative grand opening in February 2022, Vares and Young have big plans for the future. “We want to create a welcoming atmosphere for all people, whether you’re a hardcore pinball enthusiast or you’re a complete beginner,” Vares says. In the future, they hope to add big screen TVs, make use of the patio in the summer, and hold leagues and tournaments for pinball lovers of all ages. “The Tilted Turret will be a casual, come-as-you-are local pub with great food and great entertainment,” Vares says.

Think you can top the high scores? Follow the Tilted Turret Pinball Pub on Facebook @tiltedturret for updates.