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New wizard takes over John John’s Game Room, Capitol Hill’s pinball bar

(Image: John John's)

(Image: John John’s)

In coming weeks, there will be a new set of machines and a new owner at John John’s Game Room at the base of E Olive Way. But don’t expect anybody to mess with John John’s.

“It has its own little niche and we don’t want to mess with that,” new owner Jeff Rogers tells CHS.

Rogers is taking over the well-loved pinball bar founded by the Add-a-Ball crew and opened in 2012. Add-a-Ball’s original home in Fremont, meanwhile, will keep on flipping.

Part of the Skill Shot pinball ‘zine and Pinball Seattle league crowd and a lifelong fan of the games, Rogers said the opportunity to own a pinball bar is a natural fit born of the Add-a-Ball owners having their “hands full” with the action in Fremont.

“I’ve been playing pinball most of my life. I’ve been collecting machines my entire life,” Rogers said.

“For me, It’s a very nostalgic thing,” he said. “I grew up with one in my uncle’s basement.”

Rogers says the bar part of John John’s won’t change much — he’s also ditched a possible new name. He plans to introduce draught beer into the offerings… and that’s about it. On the games side, however, fans will find a full turnover powered by the new owner’s personal collection.

With a day job in tech, Rogers says he as amassed a pinballer’s small fortune in machines. “Some of the classics that everyone loves we will have in,” he rattled off to CHS by text. “The Addams family, twilight zone, monster bash, medieval madness. We will also have arcades such as paper boy, [Michael] Jackson moon walker, and an ice cold beer to replace the zekes peak.”

(Image: John John's)

(Image: John John’s)

CHS assumes a few of you got twitchy flipper fingers after reading that, texting typos and all. Rogers says John John’s will also feature one of his most rare machines. The Joust pinball machine is based on the arcade classic but known for its unique, two player, head to head game play. Joust pinball is also know for its persnickety maintenance requirements. Fortunately, Rogers says, John John’s also has two repair experts ready to swing into action for any mechanical breakdowns.

(Image: John John's)

(Image: John John’s)

Rogers joins a few newcomers in E Olive Way’s curving nightlife scene. In time for March Madness, new owner Tracy Ward plans to open Kessler’s sports bar in the former home of Tommy Gun. By spring, one of 29 new Capitol Hill restaurants and bars to look forward to in 2015, Ballard-born Hot Cakes “cakery” and “s’mores fire pit,” is planned to open in the new construction where B&O Espresso once stood. They’ll join newly opened modern Chinese restaurant Zhu Dang, and now-longtimers like the 2012-born Hillside Bar or the 2014-opened vinyl bar Revolver along with the expanded Montana plus its delicious little buddy Kedai Makan and the transplanted CC Attle’s. Speakeasy Knee High Stocking Co. is also hidden away on the street. Meanwhile, neverending dive Crescent Lounge sings on. Rogers neighbors include Seattle-Brooklyn-Seattle storied Speckled and Drake and teensy-tiny, more fun than you’d care to admit Pie Bar.

For Rogers, John John’s is the first step in taking his pinball passion to a new level.

“This is a big passion for me — we really take it seriously,” he said. The Pinball Seattle league pits bar-backed teams head to head in pinball venues across the city.

Rogers said he is also at work creating a new pinball bar in Ballard.

He sees the games as an antidote to the amount of screen time we all soak up at work.

“People who have a tech job, instead of staring at a screen, they want to grab a beer and do something a little more hands-on, more mechanical.”

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9 thoughts on “New wizard takes over John John’s Game Room, Capitol Hill’s pinball bar

  1. This is all fine and everything, but: NOOOOOO! Not Zeke’s Peak!! Can’t the new owner buy it? That game is half the reason some people go to John John’s!

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