Pins Mechanical and 16 Bit employ bright idea to sanitize equipment during COVID pandemic

Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 10:50:52-04

CINCINNATI — CEO Troy Allen and his staff at Columbus-based Rise Brands have spent three months trying to come up with the best solution to reopen its 16 Bit Arcade bars and Pins Mechanical duckpin bowling alleys in Cincinnati and several other cities.

"For us, obviously both facilities are very high-touch facilities and so when COVID happened and we had to shut down for three months now we started right away, OK, as far as what's it going to look like post-COVID," Allen said. "What would make me comfortable? Or taking my kids there for a night out?"

Allen said he and his team considered using a chemical bath to kill viruses, especially at Pins Mechanical, where visitors share lanes and duckpin bowling balls.

"For me, one of the most important things was, especially with Pins, you have this facility where people are continually handling and touching the duckpin balls and you have different groups on side-by-side lanes that are sharing that," he said.

Ultimately, though, Allen and his team instead turned to medical-grade ultraviolet sanitizing lights that work for both Pins Mechanical and 16 Bit locations.

"We've got little handhelds that we use throughout the night between uses," said Paul Montgomery, general manager for Rise Brands in Cincinnati discussing his team's use of UV lights at the 16 Bit location in Over-the-Rhine. "But at night afterward we've got one where we've got to throw on the glasses and put on the gloves. It's a powerful one. We treat all the games and UV-treat all the surfaces before the next day."

The arcade bar on Walnut Street reopened a week-and-a-half ago.

"We are doing things a lot differently now," Montgomery said.

That includes having two full-time staff members wiping down or UV-treating each video game machine used. Guests also are no longer allowed to congregate at the bar and are assigned seating restaurant-style, Montgomery added.

And while Pins Mechanical on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine waits to reopen due to sidewalk work right in front of the location, Allen said other Pins Mechanical locations have opened with similar UV technology.

"We've actually installed 55-watt medical-grade UV in our ball returns," Allen said. "So now every ball you throw down the lane, it goes into our lift system that brings the ball back, you know, gravity-fed come back down, and that's about a four-second process."

Allen said the Pins Mechanical location in Over-the-Rhine should reopen by mid-July. For more information on both Pins Mechanical and 16 Bit locations, visit