Outer Orbit, a new bar and Hawaiian restaurant with nine pinball machines and 12 taps of beer, is ready for liftoff at 3215 Mission Street. It’s dream come true for owners Christian Gainsley and Elisabeth Kohnke, a married couple of “pinheads” (or pinball wizards) who’ve been trying for years to bring a bit of family fun — plus adult beverages and food from Gainsley’s native Hawaii — to their Mission/Bernal neighborhood. After years of scheming, they open this Friday, August 24rd, with hours in the afternoon and evening and weekend brunch to start next week.
Chef Sam DeCamp (Gibson, Finn Town) is in charge of Outer Orbit’s menu of Guava-smoked pork and musubi with house-made spam. “Hawaiian food’s really fun cause it’s such a melting pot of different cultures,” he says. And at Outer Orbit, the idea is that “it’s affordable, to the price point that people can come back on a regular basis.” When it arrives, brunch will include malasadas, loco moco, and POG (pineapple, orange, guava) mimosas.
Parents can expect a small kids menu, too. And for the adult crowd, the bar will serve a selection of wines by the glass and bottle, plus a few schochu and vermouth-based low ABV cocktails. The real bar star will be beer, with 12 options on tap and 15 by the bottle. Bernal neighbors like Barebottle Brewing will be represented, with an emphasis on tropical-tasting sours beers. “Sour beers pair really well with Hawaiian food,” Gainsley says.
The Outer Orbit space was formerly Bel, a Belgian beer bar and restaurant. But Gainsley and Kohnke totally rejiggered the layout and the look, and the design quickly reveals their background in fine art (they used to be technicians at Stanford’s art department). The design inspiration is “mid-century science industry graphic design and advertisements,” with giant lightbox murals by Vincent Sacco. Meghan Dorrian was their interior designer and architect, and Echo Summit Construction was the contractor.
Outer Orbits’ nine pinball machines are works of art themselves: “It’s such an amazing game,” says Kohnke, whose relationship with Gainsley “blossomed” over games of pinball. They’re involved in SF’s tight-knit pinball community, participating in league play through the SF Pinball Department, a popular local pinball society.
“It’s not only a game of skill that you can get really good at, but it’s an amazing mix of physics and electromechanical parts and art. There’s so much creativity in the machines.” Themes for the nine machine are both new and classic: Guardians of the Galaxy, Total Nuclear Annihilation, Monster Bash, Tron, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Fishtales, Theater of Magic, World Cup Soccer, and Zodiac, a 1971 machine that’s currently Gainsley’s favorite.
More pinball machine from the Pacific Pinball Museum will rotate in to keep the lineup fresh. And yes, when Outer Orbit opens, Gainsley and Kohnke plan to host tournaments, as well as birthdays and private parties.
Outer Orbit’s hours are Wednesday and Thursday 4 p.m to 10 p.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.