Pinball pub to take place of Belgian eatery

Bel, located at 3215 Mission St., will close after a two-year run in the neighborhood. Photo by Laura Waxmann

A pinball and food establishment called Outer Orbit Pinball and Restaurant will be moving into the Mission Bernal neighborhood and is set to operate in the Mission Street space currently occupied by the Belgian gastropub Bel.

Bel, located at 3215 Mission St., will close in the coming months  after a two-year run in that location.  It is unclear when Outer Orbit will take over – lease negotiations are ongoing but the transfer is “imminent,” said Richard Rosen, Bel’s chef and co-owner.

In regard to his vision for Bel, Rosen said that he and his partner attempted to bring a European flair into a neighborhood saturated with “cocktail lounges or Asian and South American restaurants.”

“What we wanted to do was something that was not happening in the neighborhood…something more European style that was more beer-focused,” he said. “We wanted to do something that was different and non competitive and offers variety to the neighborhood.”

On Monday, Rosen and his partner and co-owner, Jennifer Garris, posted a notice in Bel’s storefront window informing their community of their departure. The couple live in the neighborhood and also operate the popular Mission craft beer and pizza joint Pi Bar, at 1432 Valencia St.

“It is with considerable remorse that we must close the doors at Bel and move on,” the couple wrote, citing “economic, demographic and personal” factors as reasons for closing.

A motorcycle accident three years ago resulted in a torn shoulder cuff and is now forcing  Rosen to undergo surgery, leaving Bel’s small crew operating at skeleton staffing.

“It’s a small crew of which I am a half of – I hate to say that I’m indispensable, but in this particular case it is so,” said Rosen.

Recently another local couple approached the Rosen and Garris with the offer to buy the space and turn it into a pinball arcade that will also serve craft beer and dinner, the restaurateurs obliged.

“I think their concept will work here,” said Rosen.

That concept will entail a “colorful, family-friendly pinball arcade featuring novel concessions, local beers, fine wine, and Hawaiian inspired meals,” according to a temporary website for Outer Orbit.

Outer Orbit owners Christian and Elizabeth, who are operating the restaurant as the Skillshot LLC., are Bernal Heights residents and had initially planned to open their pinball-arcade and restaurant on Cortland Avenue.

Bernalwood reported that that the couple was initially eyeing the space of a former hair salon, the Cutting Edge Salon at 1000 Cortland Ave., as the new home to their pinball establishment, but were met with opposition.

Converting the salon into an eatery and arcade would have required a change of use permit, which some Bernal neighbors objected to on the grounds of noise and alcohol concerns. Outer Orbit’s owners could not be reached for comment by press time.

Already zoned for restaurant use and equipped with a type 41 license, Bel’s space seems to be a better fit.

Once Bel closes, the couple said that they plan to take a break and focus on their other establishment and on Rosen’s recovery, but added that they are not opposed to opening another restaurant in the neighborhood in the future.

“We’ve lived in this neighborhood for 25 years – I love this neighborhood,” said Garris, but added in reference to a five-alarm fire last summer destroyed several businesses and a residential hotel across the street from Bel: “This neighborhood is still in serious transition, and the fire definitely did not help. I think it’s made everyone kind of depressed.”

It is unclear when the pinball entrepreneurs will officially set up shop, but according to Outer Orbit’s website, the gaming could begin sometime in Spring 2018.

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2 Comments

  1. So sorry to hear this. We loved Bel, although we didn’t make it out of our NE Mission neighborhood to visit as often as we would have liked.

  2. Eric Flood

    Would’ve loved to go to Bel, every time I saw it it was closed however. Hopefully the pinball place can have better hours. At least Pi Bar is still there – a treasure of SF – didn’t realize it was run by the same people.

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