BY DAVID COLON
At some laundromats you might be lucky to find a couple arcade games that distract you while your clothes spin. Only one, Greenpoint’s Sunshine Laundromat, has turned the time-killing aspect into the main attraction.
While Sunshine had been known as the city’s only laundromat/pinball arcade, the spot recently underwent renovations. The front of the house is nothing but washers and dryers, save for three pinball machines near the front door and a dryer that’s been converted into an Area 51/Maximum Force arcade game. But walk towards the back and you’ll find a spacious room full of 23 pinball machines, a bar with eight taps of craft beer, and a coin-operated fortune telling monkey.
The whole thing is the brainchild of owner Peter Rose, who said he began finding spare corners of the laundromat to place pinball machines in August of 2011, before he began truly embracing his obsession with the game by removing washers and dryers to make room for more gaming machines.
“That’s really when the landlord started questioning me,” Rose said, laughing. “This place is like my overgrown living room.”
As your delicates spin to cleanliness (washers go for $2.75 for double loads or $7.50 for 50 pound machines; dryers are 5 minutes per quarter), you can try your luck at one of machines which all cost 75 cents, have a beer ($7 from one of eight taps or $5-$7 from a can), or grab a Roberta’s frozen pizza ($10, for either margherita or kale) in order to pass the time.
The beer is served in modified Anthora cups and enjoyed on tables that Rose designed with his mother—they feature mosaics of dogs playing pinball, drinking beer and eating pizza, a tribute to Rose’s dogs that hang out in the front laundromat area.
The games range in age from a vintage 1980s Black Knight 2000 machine to a new machine based on Tron, with the majority of them being from what Rose called pinball’s “golden age” of the 1990s. One machine, Bing Bang Bar, is one of only four in the world available to the public according to Rose.
Even the bathroom doesn’t escape the arcade touch, with the mirror lights in the style of pinball bumpers, and the toilet flusher on the wall in the shape of a pinball flipper. In order to make the handle work, Rose said that particular detail required a $2,000 custom toilet system.
Beyond Rose’s own obsession with pinball, he also sees the renovation as a way for Sunshine to stay open in an era of rising rents and laundry apps.
“It’s sad to say, but a laundromat doesn’t belong on a main thoroughfare in Greenpoint. Economically, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
The addition of the bar seems to be working. Hang out at Sunshine on a Sunday afternoon, and that back room fills up with equal amounts of laundry washers and pinball seekers, which on a recent visit included former Greenpoint resident Chris Gethard.
Gethard said he used to live behind Sunshine and missed the more cramped quarters of the original setup, when laundry machines were right on top the games, but still hung out to play Theater of Magic while waiting for a friend.
“The pinball is what’s important to me,” Rose said. “I’m just happy seeing people play it.”