Monday, March 27, 2023

Join our email blast

Belly Up To...

Backpocket Pin & Pixel


A popular brewery, Backpocket Brewing, opened a satellite location in Johnston in January. Backpocket Pin & Pixel is located at Merle Hay Road and 62nd Street in the newly constructed Johnston Town Center.

The new digs differ from Backpocket’s original Coralville location. The “Pin” portion includes duckpin bowling, while the “Pixel” offers retro arcade games. And of course there’s beer, which they’ve been brewing since 2008.

Owner-operator Jake Simmons says the place is for all ages.

“It’s family-friendly, but not in the Chuck E. Cheese sense. You could have a 50th anniversary party or 5-year-old’s birthday party.”

Here’s a quick lesson on duckpin bowling. Duckpin is on a smaller scale than regular bowling. The lanes are shorter, and players aren’t required to wear bowling shoes. The ball is small enough for kids to handle. The place has six lanes at $6 per game, and play time is first come, first served.

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (March)

A walk inside the modern building showcases its industrial, streamlined design. The tall wood ceilings give it a unique look, along with an Chihuly-inspired glass light fixture. Additionally, Simmons built bar lights in his garage. 

Huge garage doors on both the front and back can open up to outdoor patios. However, on a cold winter evening, the doors were shut tight. 

The bar and dining area are separated. One half includes arcade games and bowling; the other half includes the bar and seating area. 

Backpocket serves about 15 of their beers on tap, including the popular Slingshot, along with a couple domestic beers. Beer prices run around $6 to $7, depending on size. Ask for a sample or try a flight of beers. They offer a limited wine selection, a few craft cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks and a tasty root beer float. A menu with about a dozen food items includes street tacos, pizza, smash burgers and “bytes” appetizers, such as wings and pretzels. Entrees run from $9 to $14. 

Everything is self-service, as there are no waiters. Simply order at the bar for food and drinks, and a flashing pager indicates when the food is ready. According to Simmons, Backpocket’s business model is unique in its tipping, where all employees share in the tips, including the bartenders, cooks and staff.

“Everyone is equal. We want people to know their job is not more valuable than the other,” he said.

Got a pocket of quarters? Head to the arcade for some retro games, including Pac-Man, NASCAR racing, skee ball, air hockey, foosball and pinball. You won’t get a row of tickets to redeem for a plastic trinket — instead, you will savor the satisfaction that you beat your buddy’s time in NASCAR racing.

On a Tuesday night, patrons included holiday partygoers, retirement celebrants and a few kids tagging along with their dad. You could hear the occasional thud and thwack sounds from the duckpin bowling. 

If you want to drink beer and relive your foosball glory days, you don’t have to do it in your parents’ basement. Head over to Backpocket Pin & Pixel instead. ♦

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *