A ray of ‘Sunshine’ for every pinball wizard

The backroom and pinball bar of Sunshine Cleaners. (Photo by Alex Mitchell)

Make sure you bring plenty of quarters — Sunshine Cleaners in Greenpoint has been laundering one of Brooklyn’s best kept secrets for over five years now and it would make both Elton John and The Who jump for joy. 

It’s back behind a hidden door disguised as a washer unit where all the fun is had in the city’s only pinball bar and laundromat hybrid.  

Way more than just a couple of dopey bar games, this pinball paradise features and upwards of over 20 machines; some from the golden arcade days of the 1980s and others from a more modern era. 

“Why have a bar without fun?” said Sunshine worker Gina Malanick while weighing a heap of dirty clothes upfront. 

She’s been going to Sunshine as a customer for 29-years and joined when owner Peter Rose decided to flip the back room into the pinball powerhouse. 

Though, Rose is anything but banned from this hall that features his robust collection of machines and other quirks that could only be found in a laundromat pinball bar setting. 

What else can be found back there is the 2019 state champion pinball player pouring beers behind the bar. 

Alberto Santana took home the prestigious title with home machine advantage since Sunshine hosted the state championship last year.

He boasts that the game is 80 percent skill and 20 percent luck, “not the other way around.”

The washer/dryer unit disguised door into the pinball room at Sunshine.

Santana’s favorite row of machines to play and practice on are along the wall opposite to the bar, he said.

“That entire wall is almost all Williams made from the 1990s,” he explained, calling those light up machines and its manufacturer a golden standard and age for the game prior to Williams Electronics pinball division closure in 1999. 

A boxed pinball machine outside of Sunshine’s front entrance.

A particular fun one Williams’ machine on the row’s left end is the “Attack From Mars” game, though its easy to be taken off guard while trying protect the Earth with only three lives. 

“The Big Lebowski” machine even features a white Russian drink crafted beneath the glass while the “Jurassic Park” one rumbles likes there’s a Tyrannosaurus going for record numbers- though with the dinosaur’s tiny arms it would be less than likely.

“The Ghostbusters” game is particularly unforgiving, though. Santana explained as the flippers are spaced wider than ones on standard machines, meaning that in many cases only an apparition  could reach the ball. Win or lose, hitting the start button and hearing Ray Parker Jr.s’ iconic theme blast to the clink of bumpers and other sound effects is downright cool no matter how you cut it. 

Sunshine also features more updated pop culture references like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Deadpool-themed machines as well.

“It gets crazy on Wednesday nights, that’s when we have our league in here,” she said also noting that Sunshine Cleaners does birthday parties as well.

The frontal laundromat at Sunshine Cleaners.

Business at Sunshine is about a 50/50 split between people setting high scores for pinball and in loads of laundry done, Malanick said.

Alex Mitchell