Skillshot Pinball Quits 1000 Cortland, Begins Search for Other Spaces Nearby

Life Lesson: When the Great Pinball Machine of Life sends your ball sliding down a side gutter, that doesn’t mean Game Over. Instead, you take a deep breath, load a new ball into the plunger, and play again.

Thats the lesson Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth seem to have drawn from their effort to open Skillshot Pinball at 1000 Cortland Avenue, in the former Cutting Edge Salon space. After all the fuss, fear, and befouling bureaucracy, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth have decided to seek a more friction-free location on Cortland for Skillshot Pinball — and perhaps one with a kitchen attached too.

Skillshot’s latest newsletter says:

We recently came to a somber decision. We’ve decided to no longer pursue 1000 Cortland (formerly Cutting Edge Salon) as a location for the pinball. You’re probably aware of the protestations of some of the tenants of the building and their pledge to challenge all the permits we would need to acquire along the way in building out the space and opening. We did meet with them and tried our hardest to explain our vision and reassure them of the steps we would take to mitigate any impact on their tenancy. Throughout that process we also discovered that to bring the space up to code because of how large it is we would have to make some costly renovations (egress doors would have to swing outward and therefore be inset in the structure; fire abatement also installed). The cost of installing the plumbing for the beer and kitchen sinks would be also be quite high while not allowing for much flexibility in food options since we wouldn’t have a hood. When you add up the amount of time it would have taken to get through the protests and renovate we were looking at a 1.5 year timeline. In addition, the city’s alcohol advisory panel signaled it would probably recommend not issuing our permit, even though we hadn’t yet presented our case to them. Sadly, renovation costs and the rising probability of losing the beer permit felt like too big of a financial gamble for the little pinhall we had envisioned.

The good news is that we are not letting the dream go and will march on with the goal of opening this pinhall in Bernal Heights and on Cortland Ave. We’ve also resolved to have a bit more of a food program to generate more attraction, and based on feedback from the community we will aim for a beer and wine license instead of just beer. We’ve just begun negotiations to buy-out a restaurant, though out of respect for the owner’s privacy will not name that restaurant. But a restaurant would allow us to do fuller meals which is very exciting.

PHOTO:: Side gutter of a 1964 Williams “San Francisco” pinball machine, by Telstar Logistics

30 thoughts on “Skillshot Pinball Quits 1000 Cortland, Begins Search for Other Spaces Nearby

  1. The reality is that it would have been near-impossible to place a drinking establishment in this location given all the code/renovation issues, without even considering the neighbors’ opposition. The only way I see that space converting to any food/beverage service is if the owner does it; it’s just too old a building with too many renovations needed for any tenant to do themselves.

    Taking over an existing food service space with plumbing and a hood makes a lot more sense, and will be less costly and a lot quicker to bring on line. There’s nothing so special about the 1000 Cortland space that won’t translate elsewhere in the neighborhood, so this sounds like good news for everybody.

    Can’t wait to spend some quarters with my kids at Skillshot when it opens!

    • Speaking of renovations, it looks like work is already underway to gut and remodel the joint. The plywood wall now fronting Folsom has been tagged and painted over a few times. Anyone know what’s happening there now that the potential lessees are pulling out?

      • Hi, I don’t want to speak too much on behalf of the landlord, but the plywood is very likely to do with soft story retrofits that were required between the change of tenants. I know that was the work that was planned while we were last talking to the landlord. It’s requiring a couple I-beams to be inserted here and there and a couple are right up against the facade on the inside. I imagine they had to pull some of the glass panels since they might break and that’s why they boxed it in.

    • Mmm, that space was really something special. Big windows and lots of light; it was really inviting and cool. And actually, taking over an existing restaurant is no actual guarantee of things being easier. We’ll probably do the same amount of plumbing at the new place we’re considering because it’s all out of code. Things go out of code pretty quickly. Even hoods. And the landlord at 1000 Cortland was really amazing and going to help us cost-share a lot of the improvements. It was a hard decision. Even the landlord at 1000 Cortland was open to installing a type-1 hood, though we now know that wouldn’t have flown with the tenants above.

  2. Hope they can come to terms on a suitable location. Their message shows it wasn’t just the issue of the tenants impact:

    1) Tenants of the building pledge to challenge all the permits.

    2) Costly renovations to bring space up to code (egress doors/fire abatement/plumbing).

    3) Alcohol advisory panel signaled a negative recommendation on permit.

    It can be tough getting stuff done here, but I hope they can find a good spot to open their business!

  3. I wish them the best of luck and sympathize with their plight, but wonder—why Cortland? As lovely as it is up on top of the old hill there, it draws people in rather limited numbers. Especially in the evening.

    • We live in the neighborhood and think it would be a great addition to the neighborhood, especially since there seems to be a dirth of things for kids and young adults to do up here. We just love the hood and we see enough draw from foodies in the area that we think it could work financially.

      • Hi Christian,
        Wishing you luck in finding a new place. Are there any possibilities in Butcher Town or just on Bayshore near floorcraft? Or is that area still not ready for prime time?
        My dream would be for someone to buy out that smoke/bottle bodega on Cortland/Bayshore and level it for something more appealing to the neighborhood. 🙂

  4. Can’t wait to enjoy some beer OR wine at the new location!! So glad you’re attempting to stay on Cortland! Hope that in progress option works out!!

  5. What about inside Bare Bottle Brewery? Seems like they have the space and a pinball hall would be a nice addition to their offerings. Even if it is only temporary until you find a permanent spot.

    • that’s a cool idea. also wanted to comment for some time now about the drunk people jaywalking across cortland from bare bottle. they all think it’s so funny as they dodge and stall traffic with their strollers and babies in tow. i think it’s incredibly dangerous.

  6. Hey Todd how bout some intrepid reporting on the damn ice cream cafe that’s been in limbo since … oh last year. You know the one on Cortland?

    • Intrepidly, I did speak to the owners recently. They are using the location as an ice cream factory to supply their trucks, but holding off on the retail part due to the difficulty in finding qualified staff and some general family stuff that’s keeping them busy.

      • I miss the Filipino grocery – where else could you get BBQ chicken on a stick for $2? (maybe it was $3, but either way it was cheap and filling). The ice-cream store owners have every right to use that space to meet their business model requirements, but I still prefer when storefronts on Cortland are open to the public – makes the street more lively.

      • That’s too bad – it’s not a pretty site to see a paper-overed corner retail space.

      • I wish they would just let the place go to another retailer because right now, it just collects pigeon poop.

  7. How about 3214 Folsom, on the super-hip North Slope? Despite the “It Will Happen” sign that’s been up for nearly 2 years, I think the pizza project has stalled. Has a kitchen! Zoned for booze! Think of all the Precita hipster traffic!

  8. hurray for Pinball in Bernal…Cannot wait and Skeeball too…maybe 😀
    and yes that space at 1000 Cortland is beautiful…perfect for a tea room…just saying

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