I’ve been waiting for a pinball bar or beercade to open in Calgary for a very long time.  Since discovering them a few years ago in other cities, I’ve been sitting here waiting patiently for someone in Calgary to do it. And I get why there was a delay. A bar is already a risky business venture, and than add in costly arcade and pinball machines and costs add up really quickly.

But my wait came to an end this weekend when Pin-Bar opened its doors.  I actually didn’t even know it was opening until I read it on YYScene, but as soon as I did, I made immediate plans to check it out. Located on 17th Ave, Pin-Bar couldn’t have picked a better spot.

As soon as I walked in, I knew I was home. Here’s why:

Now, if you know me, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m scared. I basically just cry all the time. It’s honestly a bigger deal for me when something doesn’t make cry.  So I can tell you with confidence, when I saw this sign, I cried.

To some, this sign isn’t a big deal. To me, it’s a very big deal, and I’ll explain why. I have never seen a sign like this before. It’s bright orange, it’s huge and it’s the first thing you see when you walk in.  Sure it breaks down different types of discrimination, but really what’s it’s doing is saying: No assholes.  And if you’re someone who’s ever been a victim of assholes, you know what a big deal this is.  It’s empowering to know that I can go to a place and if someone calls me a fag, which happens, the bar and restaurant will have my back. It allows me to relax. To have fun and be myself. I took a deep breath and had fun with my boyfriend.  All of that is important.

Maybe you don’t need a sign like this to feel safe in a bar, and that’s great. But for lots of people, they do. And I fell a hell of a lot better after seeing it.  Since Calgary has very few gay bars left (maybe three?), I love the idea that any bar can be a gay bar, or a straight bar, or a whoever you love bar.  If it’s a public space and everyone can feel safe, than I’m happy.  Some people might think that all bars are like that already. Sadly, they are not. But I know now that Pin-Bar is, and that’s exciting.

The other part of the sign that had me feeling emotional was that it was clearly a purposeful decision. I can’t imagine all the things you have to think about when you’re opening a restaurant and the owner made a decision to make sure the sign was up, big and hard to avoid. During the chaos of opening a restaurant, to think of that, says a lot. Now that’s what I call a thoughtful business owner. And that’s when before even ordering, I tracked down the owner and said that I really appreciated the sign. It’s important to say thank you as well.


As for the bar, I had a blast. The menu was really great, with lots of options for those who are gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. More thoughtful decisions.  There was a slew of local beer options too.

I’m so excited that there’s a pin-bar finally in Calgary. I was likely always going to go anyway, but now, thanks to that sign, they have a customer for life.

Mike Morrison


  1. Massive props to Pinbar and the Palomino. The latter is my favorite place and I’ve been to the former two weeks in a row. The Beyond Meat burger is available as both.

  2. Have been it itching to head to Pinbar as I spent a lot of my youth playing pinball. Read your article, , and noticed they have GF food options. Daughter is a celiac. Wondering if you noticed any GF beer being served.



    PS. I interpret the sign the same way you do. Don’t be an asshole.

  3. Not only do they support their customers but also their staff. As anyone who has ever worked in a bar or restaurant can attest, customers can be shitty. To have management back you up is incredible.

  4. Also important to note that the owner is also the managing partner at Palomino. These standards of conduct began there and have carried over to Pin-bar.

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