Mystic Pinball closes; owners cite pandemic

  • Visitors to Mystic Pinball in Turners Falls play with pinball machines during the business’ grand opening in July of 2017. As a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mystic Pinball is now closing. Staff File Photo/Matt Burkhartt

Staff Writer
Published: 7/14/2020 4:57:40 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Mystic Pinball, a pinball arcade at 104 Avenue A, will close for good by the end of July.

Co-owners Mark Hankowski and Danny Levine announced the news in a Facebook post on Tuesday. They cited the economic impact of the pandemic, and Massachusetts’ indefinite business shutdown, in which some types of businesses, including arcades, will not be able to reopen until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 becomes available.

The owners are still interested in reviving the business if and when it becomes feasible again, Hankowski said, but there is no indication yet of when that may be.

“I have a very large collection of pinball machines that are going to be sitting in storage,” he said.

Mystic Pinball opened in July of 2017, with a rotating lineup of classic vintage pinball machines and modern ones. As an arcade with a niche specialty, it draws local customers as well as pinball fans from throughout New England, Hankowski said.

The storefront closed in mid-March following the state of emergency resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. At the time, Hankowski and Levine said they considered the closure to be temporary.

However, as the state’s timeline for allowing businesses to reopen stretched longer, it has become unclear when Mystic Pinball may be able to open again. In the meantime, Hankowski said, the owners would be paying rent on the Avenue A space, with no way of making money.

“It’s just easier to shut it down and not pay rent,” Hankowski said. “If things change, we can start it up again.”

When Gov. Charlie Baker first announced the state’s plans on reopening, in May, arcades and other entertainment venues — bars, casinos and others — were included in the third phase.

Phase 3 began last week. But a week before that, Gov. Baker announced that the reopening of entertainment venues would be delayed to Phase 4, which will be determined by the availability of treatments for COVID-19, and does not have a tentative date attached to it.

Some bars have been able to open, in limited capacities, by serving food, effectively becoming restaurants.

But in the case of Mystic Pinball, Hankowski said, there are probably no similar possibilities. Even if the company could somehow classify itself as a different type of business, the current legal restrictions on the number of people allowed in enclosed spaces would effectively make the business unfeasible, he said.

Hankowski said he expects to start packing up and moving out next week.

Reach Max Marcus at or 413-930-4231.

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