SAN FRANCISCO - Reopening day can't come soon enough for businesses who did their best to hang on during the past 15 months.
In San Francisco, the Musee Mecanique at Pier 45 will open Tuesday for the first time, exactly 15 months after it was forced to shut down due to the pandemic.
The message ‘Welcome Back!’ is painted on its front doors.
Owner Dan Zelinsky says it will be full speed ahead. Doors will open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
On Tuesday afternoon, it was a trial run.
Zelinsky powered on many attractions, including the Mighty Wurlitzer. It played what is being described as the happiest music in the world.
"This is the most exciting moment in a long, long time," Zelinsky says. "I'm giddy with joy. I just want to be surrounded by happy faces again. I really miss that."
Admission is free. It's pay as you play.
The business was started by Zelinsky's father in 1933. There are 300 machines, vintage and modern. All require regular maintenance even though the arcade was closed.
"For example, your car, if you don't use your car, the battery dies the tires go flat. The same with the machines," says Zelinsky.
The attractions have undergone fine tuning and they're ready to entertain; a return to normal coming none too soon.
In the Financial District at Toy Soldier, Tuesday also marks the first time the restaurant bar will open since the pandemic shutdown.
"It seems like 14 years, not 14 months. A long, bumpy road," says Johnny "Love" Metheny, owner of Toy Soldier.
Food is being prepped. Tables and chairs moved back in place for the reopening.
Metheny says the first private party booking is scheduled in two weeks, and more bookings are expected.
"We're getting calls for Christmas, unbelievably for a June," says Metheny.
Back at Musee Mecanique, there was a constant stream of people peering through the front glass doors, wanting to know when it will reopen.
"I want to go back here and play my favorite pinball games and have a few beers at the local bars," says Tony Llanos, a San Francisco resident.
"Tomorrow is going to be the biggest reunion ever," says Zelinsky.
The arcade owner says a Gofundme saved his business.
He says he's forever grateful to his family friends and patrons.