In 2001, Kristopher Medina moved from New York to Los Angeles to advance his career as a stuntman.
“That never happened,” said the co-founder of Solid State, a new bar in Woodside, Queens.
Despite stunt credits in “Ted” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Wet Hot American Summer,” Medina said his career on the West Coast never really took off. He did, however, discover a love of craft beer and pinball before returning to New York in 2009.
Now, the founder and commissioner of the Pinball New York City league, has teamed up with fellow league member Corey Lange, a veteran bar manager, and Andy Heidel, the owner of Prospect Heights’ steampunk-themed saloon The Way Station, to launch a business bringing Medina's twin passions to a neighborhood peppered with Irish pubs and Latin American sports bars.
Located at 53-22 Roosevelt Ave., a short walk from two 7 train stops and the LIRR station, Solid State is committed to showcasing Queens breweries like Big Alice, Singlecut, Transmitter and Rockaway, Medina said.
But the bar’s rotating beer menu won’t limit itself to the borough, he added. The establishment’s 20 draft lines and its selection of cans and bottles will tap brews from all five boroughs, as well as some from Long Island and upstate.
Medina expects to draw customers with not only beer, but games: The narrow, roughly 2,200-square-foot space houses seven pinball machines, at least three of which — Mousing Around, Tales of the Crypt and Super Mario Brothers — are exclusively available there, according to Medina.
The machines range from simple to enormously complex, because Medina recognizes that most pinball players are “pretty diehard,” but his mission is “to expand the audience and get other people to start playing.”
To that end, Solid State will host events to lure the uninitiated, including tutorials and drink specials, and likely welcome a new pinball league team.
“My partner Cory is interested in starting a new team here because opening the bar has required that he quit his old team,” Medina, who insisted players don’t have to be skilled at pinball to enjoy it, said.
“I’ve started and run a pinball league, I’m about to open a bar with a bunch of pinball machines, and I’m not good at pinball,” the 47-year-old Woodside resident said.
Customers who prefer to play board games will have their pick, too, and those who choose cocktails over beer can order specialty drinks with names like Slingshot and Fiorello’s Fury. (The latter refers to former Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s infamous crackdown on pinball betting during his time in office.)
While Solid State’s beer selection is an homage to Queens, the space’s interior design nods at a Brooklyn aesthetic, with exposed brick walls, caged light bulbs and wooden banquettes.
Less familiar is the bar’s name, which takes some unpacking. “Solid state,” Medina explained, describes in pinball nomenclature the current era of game technology, in which machines are activated by circuit boards, not mechanical wheels and pulses of electricity. In the 1980s, marketers used the term to describe hi-fi electronics.
Heidel has his own interpretation: “Whether it be a friend or your local bar, a solid is someone that stands by you, that’s always there,” he said in a written statement. “Solid State aims to be that for the NYC pinball/craft beer community and Woodside, Queens as well.”
Solid State is already open for business at 53-22 Roosevelt Ave., but officially celebrates its grand opening Saturday, Oct. 14.