Kebab (2315 St. Claude Ave., 504-383-4328; kebabnola.com), the uniquely modern Mediterranean sandwich shop, has always doubled as an art gallery. Last weekend, in conjunction with its first anniversary party, Kebab unveiled an intriguing new collaboration that has turned much of its gallery space into a combination game room/showroom for the Mystic Krewe of the Silver Ball.
Kebab is now home to a rotating collection of pinball machines, drawn from the krewe’s vast portfolio — some vintage, others more modern, all coin operated and ready for play. It’s called the Mystic Krewe Pinball Parlor, and plans for league play and pinball tournaments are also in the works.
The Mystic Krewe of the Silver Ball was formed in the spirit of early social aid and pleasure clubs, explains founder Michael Perry. Its members pursue projects in fields like technology, design and music, though the common thread is their passion for pinball. Its members own close to 200 machines, which fill their clubhouse, a deconsecrated church — now dubbed the PinChurch — at an undisclosed location somewhere in metro New Orleans.
Kebab’s proprietors had intended to build a gameroom here from the start, but first, they were focused on getting their new restaurant off the ground. This casual, counter-service spot serves a small menu of lavishly composed sandwiches inspired by the doner kebab shops of Europe, with falafel or gyro and chicken sliced from rotisseries and stacked on crusty loaves. They later added a full bar.
Lately, though, they’ve been spurred to up their game. Since opening last year, competition has increased along this busy corridor, which in April also saw the debut of the new food court at St. Roch Market. Co-owner Benjamin Harlow said his own business dropped noticeably since the spring, so he and his partner, Walker Reisman, started looking for ideas that would be a draw for neighbors.
“This being such a lively and artsy corridor now, we wanted to do something beyond food and drink,” he said. “Then, we remembered pinball.”
For his part, Perry sees the Pinball Parlor as an interactive installation to demonstrate why his krewe loves the game so much and to potentially recruit new members (see mystickrewe.com).
“There’s a reason you don’t see pinball machines everywhere anymore,” said Perry. “They don’t make a lot of money, and it takes effort to keep them going. But I like the way (Kebab) looks at it. It’s an old school, throwback aesthetic that we share.”
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.