Firefighters were able to prevent a four-alarm fire at Pier 45 on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 from damaging Musée Mecanique. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Historic Fisherman’s Wharf arcade asking public for donations

The owner of the popular Musée Mecanique arcade and gaming museum at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is trying to raise $250,000 to keep the business afloat amid its long-term closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GoFundMe account created by Musée Mecanique owner Dan Zelinsky has raised more than $50,000 and Zelinsky on Wednesday thanked the 800-plus donors who had given money so far.

The family-owned arcade featuring decades-old games and other curiosities was initially located at the Cliff House near Ocean Beach, but has since moved to its current location at Pier 45 of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Zelinsky said that although other types of businesses are being allowed to open after closing in March because of COVID-19, arcades like his will not be opening anytime soon.

“Being entirely hands on entertainment in a crowded arcade, we will be one of the last places to reopen,” he wrote. “With the inability to offer curbside pickup or online sales, our income has dropped to zero while our expenses remain very high.”

Zelinsky said $250,000 is usually what Musée Mecanique would need to break even when considering paying rent, insurance, electrical bills and general maintenance, and that number doesn’t even take into account employee costs.

“For so many of our machines, sitting in a warehouse not being used will cause them more damage over time than the wear and tear of being used daily,” he wrote. “With over 300 machines, it is still a full-time job keeping each machine in working order.”

The pandemic isn’t the only existential threat to face the arcade lately. A four-alarm fire last month damaged part of Pier 45, including structures holding fishing and crabbing equipment, but firefighters prevented it from spreading to Musee Mecanique.

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