The Second Saturday Art Walk, the gallery opening night on St. Claude Avenue, is usually a busy night for the restaurants and bars along this rapidly rejuvenating commercial corridor. The monthly event is especially good for Kebab (2315 St. Claude Ave., 504-383-4328), because this modern Mediterranean sandwich shop also doubles as an art gallery.
For this Saturday’s edition, Kebab is celebrating its first anniversary (see details below) and it’s also debuting a new collaboration that will turn most 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 proprietors Benjamin Harlow and Walker Reisman had intended to build a game room here from the start, though this fell by the wayside as they worked to get their new restaurant off the ground. Their 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 debut of the new food court at St. Roch Market. Harlow said his own business dropped noticeably since the spring, so he and 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.
“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.”
For Saturday’s anniversary party, Kebab will serve a special menu of souvlaki, specialty sausages, lamb and seafood from a sidewalk grill, along with frozen drinks. Specials begin at 3 p.m. Kebab is open Wed.-Mon.
For more on the Mystic Krewe of the Silver Ball see mystickrewe.com.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.