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10 questions with Avout Vander Werf

Sometime this summer, Shorty’s will be moving from its original location. We took this opportunity to ask Shorty’s owner Avout a few questions about the move…

Since 1997, Shorty’s has been one of Seattle’s premier pinball locations. Located on 2nd Ave in the Belltown neighborhood, Shorty’s is also the only Seattle pinball arcade/bar that survived the heydays of the 1990’s and into the current pinball renaissance that we currently enjoy. This is a rarity not only locally but also nationally, and helped cement its reputation as an internationally renowned pinball destination. Sometime in June of this year, Shorty’s will be moving from its original location one block north to 2316 2nd Ave. We took this opportunity to ask Shorty’s owner Avout a few questions about the move…

When did you first realize that the Shorty’s building was in danger (of being torn down)?  Right before we had the Shorty’s Goes To Belltown weekend in Sept 2015, when it became crystal clear, even though the writing had been on the wall for a while.

What has been the biggest challenge when moving Shorty’s?
Too early to tell, but preserving the Shorty’s identity and feel is very important, which time will tell. Maybe the question should be “What is your biggest fear”, which I would answer the same way. And of course that folks will still find us, even though we’re only 1 block up.

When did you begin looking for a new space?
The very next day! I was kinda poking around already, but that’s when the sense of urgency took the driver’s seat.

How long did it take you to find the new location? 
Long! 3-5 years I think. And I looked at a lot of options, even considering moving out of Belltown? Nah, no way!

Were there any specifications that you wanted for the new location?
Similar in size, old(er) building, in nightlife area, affordable (for Seattle standards).

Is this something that you expected?
I hope for the best and prepare for the worst – on a good day, I think we’ll wind up somewhere in between.

What is the most exciting aspect of moving, from your point of view?
Having new plumbing! A lot of stuff was tired but we couldn’t justify the expenses of fixing or replacing as we weren’t sure how long we were gonna stay at our spot.

When do you think or plan on the new location opening?
As it stands, in June. We just don’t know exactly when, most likely somewhere between the show and the 4th of July, but too many moving parts at this point to pinpoint an exact date.

What is the most popular pinball machine currently at Shorty’s?
The latest greatest Stern, I think.

What is your favorite pinball machine currently? Of all time? I think I’ll always like Bally’s “Golden Age”, which would be the early 80’s Ballys. 8BD, Centaur, Medusa, Fathom, etc. So for me, the dot matrix era takes the passenger seat, even though I Love FH, Dr? and TZ. I do like what JJP has done for pinball, and some of the newer Sterns too, even though I have barely scratched the surface on those. I also like the late 60’s Bally era a lot, when they did the multiball games with zipper flippers. 70s Gottlieb, both EM and early SS, as even though they have different guts, they play the same.

This interview was originally published in Skill Shot 54

We posted a sneek peek look at Shorty’s new space back in April on Facebook. You can check it out Here

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