The former Orson space in SoMa, more recently Coin-Op Game Bar, reopens Friday as a new but similar arcade-bar concept called Thriller Social Club, with a new food and cocktail menu and some throwback games inspired by Playland at the Beach.
Kingston Wu, a hospitality investor who's involved with Horsefeather and Last Rites, was one of people behind an earlier concept in this same space at 508 Fourth Street — the former nightclub/lounge known as Drake. Drake moved in in 2012, following the closure of Elizabeth Falkner's Orson, which had been the first restaurant in the former industrial space. San Diego-based Coin-Op took over five years ago, in late 2016, and the pandemic then pushed Coin-Op to permanently close.
Now, as Hoodline shows us from a preview event Thursday night, the gaming areas have been tricked out with both some new, modern games — including an $85,000 golf simulator that also lets you simulate kicking field goals in NFL stadiums, and that Steph Curry reportedly has in his home — as well as old-timey stuff that evokes the former Playland over by Ocean Beach. These include Skee-Ball, Down the Clown, and, reportedly, a couple of those spooky fortune teller puppet boxes are on the way.
There are also plenty of regular video games like Donkey Kong, and modern versions of old games like Ring Toss and Pop-a-Shot Connect 4 (a game of basketball with corresponding Connect 4 slots).
But this place is going to get associated with big-league Skee-Ball. Joey "The Cat" Mucha, who is the number-one Skee-Ball player in the world, oversaw the curation of the arcade games. And Thriller Social Club will be the home of San Francisco Brewskee-Ball®, which is a national competitive league of Skee-Ball players.
The circus-y design of the interior takes cues from Playland, as well as Barbary Coast bars and vaudeville theaters, as designer Scott Levkoff of Midwayville explains.
"My intention was to create an enticing, delightful environment that invites guests to explore a timeless era that evokes amusement halls, boardwalk arcades, and wonder palaces of years gone by," Levkoff says in a release. "I've been fascinated and in love with San Francisco's rich history in my 30 years here and wanted to create something that felt like stepping into history yet felt modern and fresh."
The food and beverage menu was done by Stag Dining Group, whose co-founder Ted Fleury remains executive chef of Alembic in the Upper Haight. Food offerings include wood-oven pizzas (including one with Peking duck), a smashburger, wings, and veal-pork-beef meatballs and fresh mozzarella served with baguette. There's also a lobster roll with brown butter and bacon.
Cocktail offerings include cocktails like The Happiest Gilmore, with gin, citrus, cucumber, and mint; and The Bearded Lady with vodka, citrus, Ancho Reyes, and blackberries. And there are batched drinks on tap including a margarita, a Moscow Mule, and a spin on White Claw called the Botanical Claw with Ketel One Botanical grapefruit and rose, strawberry, and lime.
Thriller Social Club officially opens tonight, Friday, and will be open Wednesday to Saturday, 4 p.m. until late.
Photo: Joe Kukura/Hoodline