As Mahall’s 20 Lanes approaches its 100th birthday in 2024, it’s only fitting that the entertainment complex enters a new era.
In the past year, the historic event hall has grown a reputation for more than just rock shows and vintage bowling. Bar manager Cassie Trainer’s themed parties and immersive cocktail menus have earned a cult following, and chef Parker Shaffer’s Parky’s Pop-Up, which offers gourmet, over-the-top bar food, is Lakewood’s best-kept foodie secret.
Now, Cory Hajde, who took over the ownership of Mahall’s in 2021 and is also a co-owner of Cloak & Dagger in Tremont, is ready for the business to take the next step. Pins & Needles Bar and Lounge, an immersive 70s-themed cocktail lounge, launches this Thursday in the Mahall's basement.
“I just want to put people in charge who know how to give customers an experience that they're not going to get anywhere else,” he says.
Yes, that basement — the same one where you saw your little cousin’s shitty DIY punk band play. Only now, the dingy cavern looks more like a luxurious version of your parents or grandparents former basement with wood paneling and shag carpets. Pins rattle in the background of the 25-seat lounge of vintage and secondhand plush chairs and leather sofas.
On the wall of ’70s vinyl (hence, the needle in the name), James Taylor watches over the eight walk-up stools at the custom light-up stone bar built by contractor Kevin Burrows. Dennis Tvdrik served as project manager and led the design and decor, though Trainer’s signature style inspired the place, says Hajde.
“It’s kind of like a time portal,” says Hajde. “When you go downstairs to bowl, it's like the 1960s. The upstairs music room is kind of like the ‘90s, and I was like it'd be really cool if we could do something that was very ’70s.”
Across a menu of 19 cocktails, Pins & Needles brings the Cloak-&-Dagger ethos to a lineup of classic ‘70s cocktails ($10) made with precision. Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiis and Painkillers offer tiki vibes, while Manhattans, Negronis and Martinis harken back to the days of liquid lunch. But a bit of education is to be had in rarer offerings like the Harvey Wallbanger with vodka, Galliano liqueur and orange juice, and Grasshopper with creme de menthe, creme de cocoa and cream. Dad beers such as Hamm’s ($3) and Stroh’s ($3) round out the menu and offer a nice affordable touch to the menu. And of course, a bowling alley must have a White Russian.
“Dad beers and craft cocktails are kind of polar opposites,” says Hajde. “But we wanted to perfect the recipes for these ’70s classics.”
Now, before the eyes roll out of your hipster heads, Mahall’s as you know it is not dead. Sure, the basement shows are gone, but they were on their way out long before COVID, says Hajde, with only 30 held in 2019. The big room will continue to offer a range of shows from local to mid-range acts. Hajde believes the increased foot traffic will only help the live music program.
“There’s more and more of a built-in crowd,” he says. “They’ll wander into the music room, even if they’re just here to get a drink, because they trust the consistency that there will be a band they want to see.”
As for the future, this is far from the last update to the Detroit Avenue entertainment complex. By 2024, Hajde hopes to launch a few more projects that are currently under wraps, including one that could solve that “slow summer” problem, when ticket sales and bowling attendance drop.
“Preservation is still a number one goal for us as we continue working on the space. It’s an institution,” he says. “We are trying to put programming in place so that people can actually make this a destination for everything.”