While on the road, Nicholas Benitez got hooked. The lead singer of recently disbanded pop-punk band Bat Tats had a serious case of stage fright, so when the band was on tour he needed something to take his mind off those pre-show jitters.
If whatever sticky-floored bar they were playing had a pinball machine, Benitez and drummer Isaac Rivelle would pump quarters into it until it was time to hit the stage. As rock ‘n’ roll vices go, their pinball habit was a pretty healthy one and it’s indirectly informed their new Greenwood bar.
Next week the bandmates plan to open an arcade bar dubbed Coindexter’s at 85th Street and Greenwood Avenue, an area Benitez and a third partner, JR DeMartino have worked in for years. DeMartino was bartending at neighboring Naked City Brewery & Taphouse, while Benitez was behind the stick at French restaurant Gainsbourg when they heard the owner of the Crosswalk Tavern was retiring and looking to sell.
Since taking over the space in June, the trio has torn up the floors, remodeled the kitchen and built a new back bar and bench seating in preparation for Coindexter’s Sept. 1 debut.
“It doesn’t smell nearly as bad as before,” Benitez jokes affectionately.
Provided by Coindexter's.
Their new game bar won’t be as divey as Crosswalk, but think more Add-a-Ball than sleek Vegas-style arcade bar. Eventually Coindexter’s will have 20 or so classic arcade games and pinball machines to go with 12 local tap beers, including a house beer Naked City’s brewing for them. Benitez, who honed his cocktailing skills at Mistral Kitchen, will offer a simple list of slightly tweaked classics averaging $10-$11. If his cocktails go over well he may start getting a bit more creative, but cheap whiskey and Rainier tallboys will be equally deployed.
“We’re not gonna be like a high-end cocktail bar or a super snobby, snooty craft beer place,” he says. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we just want to have elements of it.”
From the overhauled kitchen, chef/gamer Shawnna Kenney (whose resume includes Tom Douglas’ Brave Horse Tavern) will dispense wings and other bar food, with an emphasis on souped-up grilled cheese sandwiches. The Ms. Pac-Man, for instance, is made with peach preserves, crushed pretzels and gouda. (“You know, things that Ms. Pac Man would eat,” Benitez says.)
Beyond the menu, the video game nods run through a couple of murals the crew commissioned and a fridge that looks like a giant Gameboy.
Until now, Benitez’s pinball hobby was largely confined to Bad Tats tours. Between bartending five nights a week and band practice, his lone free night a week was spent with his wife. “She likes pinball, but not that much,” he cracks.
Now he has a pretty good excuse.