At Silverball Museum In Delray Beach, You Can Play On Classic Pinball Machines And Enjoy A Beer (Or Two)
Just a few blocks off Atlantic Avenue, Delray kids and parents have found a new spot to play pinball and other classic arcade games.
The children can indulge in a round of skee-ball, while the adults go for a round of beer, but with a nostalgic collection of more than 100 games, it doesn't take long for parents—and grandparents—to join in on the game play themselves.
Silverball Museum, which opened at the end of May, offers an extensive collection of games spanning the 1940s through the 2000s. As word has spread, the amusement archive has attracted area locals of all ages.
General manager Jonathan Patz, whose father and grandfather were also in the gaming industry, said he's enjoyed watching the generation that grew up with classic mall arcades come in with their children.
"You figure, now they have kids and they have a chance to show their kids something they did growing up," he said.
The retro arcade and museum is Silverball's second location, an expansion upon the original Jersey Shore location on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. Delray appealed to owner Rob Ilvento for two reasons: It's a coastal city, and it's where his parents chose to retire.
The New Jersey native first started collecting pinball machines seven years ago after his daughter took a liking to them.
"My daughter was autistic, so she took to a pinball machine more than any other thing I could occupy her time with," he said. "One led to 20, 20 led to 100…"
His basement collection quickly drew a cult following, and now located on the Asbury Park Boardwalk, it draws thousands of visitors per year, according to Ilvento.
In Delray Beach, the museum houses mechanical pinball machines from the '50s through early '80s, commercialized games with themes ranging from classic rock band Kiss to '70s film "Charlie's Angels," and modern games from the '90s and 2000s that talk back to players. Like a true museum, each game has a placard above it, explaining what era the game is from and the history behind it.
"Young kids come into Delray that never even played a pinball machine and light up," Ilvento said. "Having fun is never out of style, and we're trying to bring back a little bit of Coney Island and the Jersey Shore to South Florida."
Ilvento, whose expertise is in the food industry, and business partner Steve Zuckerman have made it their mission to grow and maintain an archive of these machines, finding new antiques to add to their collection.
By offering the games up for play to the public (paid admission gives guests unlimited play—no coins needed), the pair have made their effort commercially successful, as the arcade museum business covers the cost of renovations and upkeep.
"We may do a few more of these throughout the country—archive a few thousand machines," Ilvento said. "They're going to outlive all of us."
Silverball's impressive collection also includes 20-foot shuffleboards from the '40s, skee-ball machines from 1950s Coney Island, foosball tables from the '70s, and classic video games like Pac Man, Centipede and Asteroids. Highlights of the museum's retro decor are 1950s chairs from a Howard Johnson in California and a 4-foot disco ball hanging from the ceiling.
"It's like going back to grandma's house," Patz said.
The two-story venue serves a menu of Jersey Shore favorites—including Nathan's hot dogs, funnel cake, Jersey-style thin-crust pizza and Jersey Shore Fry Co.'s authentic fries—in addition to a coastal cuisine menu fitting for Delray, featuring crab cakes, lobster rolls, giant fried clams and more.
There are also two bars, serving a beer and wine list as well as Shirley Temples and root beer floats for the kids, and 10 TV screens for sporting events.
Already, the Silverball Museum is hosting parties up to three times a week—for 5-year-olds and 40-year-olds alike—and recently shut down the whole venue for a corporate event. The Delray Running Club has also made a habit of swinging by on their six-stop bar tour.
Passes cost $7.50 for a half-hour, $10 for an hour, $15 for an afternoon (open to 5 p.m.) or evening pass (5 p.m. to close), and $25 for all-day play. Plus, more than 50 people have already purchased monthly memberships starting at $50.
Silverball Museum will be launching a Skee-ball League Night on Monday, July 18, and offers plenty of other special events and promotions.
Here's a schedule of upcoming events:
Tuesday, July 12: 2 for $20 Tuesdays
Wednesday, July 13: Singles & Mingles Night
Sunday, July 17: Family Day, $25 for up to 4 people
Monday, July 18: Launch of Skee-ball League Night
Tuesday, Aug. 9: Foosball/Shuffleboard Tournament
Silverball Museum; 19 NE Third Ave., Delray Beach