Since its opening in 2017, 4th Avenue’s Van Buren music venue has been home to a multitude of musical acts.
Located within the venue were two empty buildings, mostly used for storage and collecting dust as the days went by.
As of August 16, those days are gone and the two vacant buildings are now home to Ziggy’s Pizza and the Stardust Lounge, downtown Phoenix’s exclusively-pinball arcade.
“As one of the owners of Cobra Arcade, one of my favorite things to do is listen to what people want as far as new games. We have a huge amount of people asking for pinball, pinball, pinball,” said Ari Bracamonte, mastermind behind Stardust Lounge.
Bracamonte says that in the past four to five years, there’s been a growing interest in pinball games.
“I think people are trying to get away from the electronics and get back to the more mechanical,” Bracamonte said. “It’s like a man versus machine kind of deal. It’s more fun because you have no idea what will happen.”
In order to get into Stardust Lounge, patrons must enter through Ziggy’s Pizza and head toward the back.
Go through the “secret entrance” and pull back the curtain…and it will feel like you stepped back into the 1970s. To the left is the bar area, the top of which is crafted from 8,500 pinballs.
To the right and left, spanning the wall, are classic pinball arcade games. A portrait of David Bowie looks over the room. There’s a DJ booth. There’s a projector playing videos. There’s a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and a multicolored light-up dance floor. It’s like being transported to a different era.
“We wanted to do stuff that people don’t necessarily see on a daily basis,” said Bracamonte.
The idea for Stardust Lounge has been in the works for a few years, back when Bracamonte and his partners Chuckie Duff and Tucker Woodbury were opening Cobra Arcade in Tucson.
“I felt like there needed to be a dedicated place for people to play pinball,” said Bracamonte. “I wanted a place for people to have fun.”
The pinball machines came from all over the southwest – in Arizona, Vegas and California. Each machine cost anywhere from $3,000-$10,000.
The pinball machines include Attack from Mars, Black Knight, Addams Family, Monster Mash, a Beatles machine and a Centaur machine (Centaur is Bracamonte’s favorite). Tokens range from 25 cents to $1.
“The idea behind the name Stardust Lounge is obviously David Bowie but more to the point, I want people to come here for a different experience,” Bracamonte said. “I want people to be able to revisit the time and maybe even pay tribute.”
Along with the pinball machines, there is also a full dance floor and plenty of music, including the classics. The bar has 10 specialty cocktails, each based off of different places with a few even inspired by Bowie himself.
“We like to call it ‘Southwest Tiki’ but it’s your classic club drinks made for today’s palate,” said D.J. Gonzales, who came up with the bar’s drink menu.
Each drink is made with “local” in mind, from the Pink Starburst (served with a pink Starburst on the side), to the Moon Age Day Dream, to the Saguaro Slammer, which is served in a cactus-shaped mason jar.
“We wanted to make drinks that taste and look good, with that ‘sensory overload’ kind of feeling…and we want them to be Instagrammable, too,” said Gonzales.
Ziggy’s Pizza serves authentic street slices. The man behind the namesake, Greg Ziegler (a.k.a. Ziggy), is from Queens, New York and is a cofounder of NYPD Pizza.
“We didn’t want to make it anything fancy. These are slices and pies that we want people to ‘wrap their arms around,’” said Ziggy.
The pizzeria offers classics such as cheese and pepperoni as well as specialty pies and wings.
Ziggy’s and the Stardust Lounge are open at 4 p.m. every day. The lounge is open to people age 21 and up.