New Ottawa pinball joint aims to recreate the 'golden era of the arcade'

Walk into the Ottawa Pinball Arcade inside a pub on Baseline Road, and you could be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped back in time.

Mike Loftus has 24 machines for pinball lovers to play — and many more at home

Mike Loftus stands inside the Ottawa Pinball Arcade, which boasts about two dozen classic pinball machines from what he calls the "golden era" of arcades. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Step into Mike Loftus's shrine to pinball, and you could be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped back in time.

Earlier this month, the Manotick man opened the Ottawa Pinball Arcade inside the Neighbourhood Pub on Baseline Road.

His goal, as he told CBC Radio's In Town and Out this weekend, was to recreate the feel of the mid-1970s and early 1980s — or as he puts it, the "golden era of the arcade."

"I was an avid player as a youth," said Loftus, a retired contractor who also runs a side business restoring and repairing pinball machines.

"My uncles both owned machines, so as soon as I was old enough to stand on a stool and see over the glass, I was into pinball."

His arcade boasts 24 different retro pinball machines, many inspired by iconic figures from the era like Evel Knievel, Bobby Orr, and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Loftus said he bought his first machine in 1992, just as people were increasingly playing video games at home and arcades were beginning to go out of business.

"My home in Manotick's been a shrine to pinball for decades. I still probably have 30 or 40 games there right now — many of which will make their way into here on rotation, to keep things fresh," he said.

"This place really is designed for 50-year-old kids, like myself."

The 'Bobby Orr Power Play' pinball machine at the Ottawa Pinball Arcade, featuring the former Boston Bruins star wearing a less-than-familiar jersey. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
In addition to the machines available to play at the Ottawa Pinball Arcade, Mike Loftus says he has about 30 or 40 more at his home in Manotick. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)
Mike Loftus says the 'Captain Fantastic' pinball machine has been his favourite since he first played it as an 11-year-old. In fact, he has two — one at his arcade, and one at home. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)