SoMa arcade bar Coin-Op Game Room has a new bonus level open June 1, a reservations-only bar-within-a-bar called The Grid. Appropriate to the movie Tron, the inspiration for the bar, walking into this futuristic “speakeasy” is a little like stepping into a video game. To complete that symbolism, drinkers/players enter The Grid through a door designed to look like a vintage Tron arcade game.
Coin Op’s 10,000-square-foot SoMa space (in the former Drake Lounge, once a steel mill) opened this spring with old-school arcade games from pinball to Pac-Man. It already sports two main bars — Flynn’s and the Octagon, also named for Tron. The more intimate space at The Grid is accessible through its own entrance and overlooks the Octagon below. A secret, online reservation system is the only way to get in, but it won’t take much hacking to find it, Coin-Op reassures guests.
In the world of Tron, The Grid is a vast “digital frontier” of experimental space, and the closest analog here are drinks from bar manager Jason Huffman. They’re “traditional, with a little bit of science thrown in,” Huffman says. Peppermint chlorophyll gives one gin and tonic drink a bottle-green hue, for example, and a freezer right off the bar lets Huffman play around with colored ices.
Coin Op is owned by the restaurant group Sporting Fraternity along with other arcade bars in San Diego and Sacramento. Its co-founder, Has Mahmood, envisions The Grid as a place for guests to slow down the action — No buzzing buzzers or flashing lights here. ”When you walk in, it’s very clean, very white, sightly futuristic, and very soothing,” he says. Like the rest of the massive, intricate Coin-Op space, The Grid was crafted by the design firm sfHEIMAT, founded by Alicia Cheung Lichtenstein and Eva Bradley.
The Grid is open June 1 for reservations from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.