Location: Turnham Green Terrace Mews, Turnham Green, London, W4 1QU, UK
Despite having a population of more than eight million, the Greater London area is not well-served when it comes to location pinball. While other cities have seen a genuine resurgence, the high cost of property in the capital and the resultant need for every square inch of floor space to pay its way has kept pinball out of most potential sites.
But out on the west side of town in 'leafy' Chiswick, a new coffee shop has just opened which bucks that trend.
In a secluded courtyard close to Turnham Green tube station, Chief Coffee opened its doors to the public for the first time on Saturday 30th May.
From its initial appearance you could be mistaken for thinking Chief Coffee is just another boutique coffee shop in an area not exactly short of caffeinated options.
But the main reason we are here is spelled out by neon signs at the bottom of the window.
First things first though. As you enter the premises you come to the coffee shop area.
Naturally, they take their coffee very seriously, with two different types of beans used for their various espresso-based drinks.
Besides the speciality coffees, there is an extensive selection of bakery products, including the cronut - a croissant-based donut. We visited on their very first day when samples of their cakes and pastries were available to try.
If you're not a fan of the bean, they also sell chilled soft drinks, bottled water, sandwiches and baguettes.
So, onto the pinball.
We have been following the progress of Chief Coffee for several months and first visited the premises back in March. At that time Chief's owner Sam McCourt envisioned having one or two pinballs in the main coffee shop area, but it quickly became clear that the hard wall and floor surfaces reflected the pinball sounds throughout the room. So it was coffee upstairs and pinball downstairs.
On our earlier visit the pinball room was still being used as a storeroom during the refurbishment of the building.
In the intervening time, the room has been cleared out, cleaned up and filled with pinballs.
There are six pinballs in total at the moment - all top titles and all in excellent condition.
The 'classic' Williams/Bally titles are prices at £0.50 ($0.77/€0.68) per game, while the two newest games - Star Trek and The Wizard of Oz are priced at £1 per game or 3 games for £2. A change machine is available to turn notes into coins.
The machines that we tested all played well, with fair playfield angles and tilt sensitivity settings. There is some seating available in the pinball room, but more is planned along with a large rug to help deaden the sound.
There's a pinball-sized gap between Cirqus Voltaire and Star Trek, and Sam is considering whether to add another modern title to the line-up, or perhaps something a little more old-school, such as a classic Bally solid-state.
Just before our most recent visit, Chief Coffee had just played host to a kids party, and Sam told us how all the youngsters immediately took to the pinball machines and thoroughly enjoyed playing them throughout the event. He said the girls in particular loved the The Wizard of Oz machine. While we were there, lots of non-players ventured down to the pinball room and were clearly having fun too.
Chief Coffee is a great addition to the London pinball scene. Being primarily a coffee shop the opening hours are designed more for workers and commuters. They open at 8am Monday to Friday (9am Saturday, 10am Sunday) and close at 7pm Monday to Saturday (6pm on Sunday). During the week, the pinball room stays open another hour after the coffee shop closes.
More details of the pinballs and the coffees available can be found on their website.
© Pinball News 2015