BOWLING’S MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES Brunswick Bowling’s Turnkey Program and Stars and Strikes he new frontier of bowling has a turnkey package deal. This deal in- bowling and billiard supplies. After the T sports. arrived and, along with it, a new model for integrating coin-op amusement into one of the oldest cludes literally everything, from the ar- chitectural designs and construction to millworks and kitchen fixtures, all at di- rect cost with no mark ups, excluding overhead cost, there are no franchise fees or revenue sharing; it is solely the own- er’s and/or investors’ business. The brain child of Hank Harris, VP of Through a new program design and construction, this con- launched by industry giant ceptual consultant pro- Brunswick Bowling called gram has become one of Brunswick Build to Bowl, the the most fascinating divi- company will entirely design, out- sions of Brunswick fit and supply an amusement cen- Bowling. Eight years in ter on an existing property, using the making, the scale of its network of suppliers to create September 2005 • RePlay Magazine • Page 117 Stars & Strikes The back wall of the Thunderbird 36 is a painted panorama of famous locales in Atlanta and north Georgia. Seen here are Centennial Park, home of the 1996 Summer Olympics; Lake Lanier, a huge lake fed mainly by the Chattahoochee River known regionally for its scenic beauty; and Turner Field, home of the Braves. The sign for the bowling area shows the qual- ity of the hand-painted signage throughout Twenty four of the thirty-six bowling lanes at Stars and Strikes stretch out in the back of the Stars and Strikes. The differently styled signs 52,000 square foot, state-of-the-art amusement facility custom designed by Brunswick Build not only designate an attraction but help to to Bowl. If there is a heaven for the Dude from “The Big Lebowski,” surely it must look like create distinct atmospheres. Stars and Strikes. this operation is as large as it is extremely garden-variety set of lanes. They aimed called The Twilight Zone, a 5,000 square detailed. A look inside one facility in par- to showcase bowling within the largest foot laser tag arena known as Next ticular, which features a game room that possible network of attractions that would Dimension and Coach’s Corner, a 4,000- rivals its stand-alone counterparts, is the both emphasize and offset the sport and square-foot sports bar. Each aspect of the best way to see the big picture and its po- do so through a sleek overall design that facility, run by 12 management staffers tential. would cater to style and not pander to and between 80 and 100 hourly employ- kitsch. Ultimately, their target audience ees, works in combination with the others Seeing Stars would be families looking to get out of like a family amusement center’s attrac- Chris Albano and managing partner the house and have fun together. tions but without slighting the primary Jack Canause had a vision similar to The idea was grand in scope, but status of balls and pins. many entrepreneurs: galvanizing the in- Brunswick Bowling brought to life this “Your business has to have an identity nate potential from a gutted piece of real meticulous concept and did so for less at its core,” says Chris, who is originally estate and channeling it into a fun, smart than Albano and Canause would have from New York and has lived in Georgia business that offers something different spent planning it on their own from the for almost 10 years. “Our core, the nucle- for everyone. In their case, the property ground up. us of it, is the 36 bowling lanes. We’re was a former Wal-Mart, one of the skele- Located in Cumming, Ga., about 10 first and foremost a bowling center at the tons left behind as the corporation pulls miles north of Alpharetta (a suburb 25 end of the day.” out of fairly large structures to build be- miles north of Atlanta), Stars and Strikes Backing up that idea are the leagues hemoth-sized super centers. The partners contains 36 lanes of action known as The — Mixed, Women’s and Men’s — that wanted a bowling facility but not just any Thunderbird 36, a video game room are currently being planned. Birthday par- Page 118 • RePlay Magazine • September 2005 The Twilight Zone, home to more than 85 amusement games, has become a main attrac- tion on its own accord while entertaining others waiting for access to a lane. Who wouldn’t enjoy a black light laser maze? Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here: Inside the laser tag arena, the walls are airbrushed to almost resemble a psychedelic alien landscape. ties are also a huge priority and source of revenues, and the facility prides itself on having “a birthday party fleet ready to go,” according to Charlene Herez, direc- Most machines in the arcade, operated by Tricorps, require a game card. tor of sales and marketing. Other bowling notifies the group that a lane has become chicken fingers, as they watch the ball- thrills and frills are here as well: cosmic available. game.” bowling and a live DJ greet bowlers on Speaking of restaurants, the food at Stars and Strikes only just opened its Friday and Saturday nights. the Starlight Drive-In is not standard doors in mid-July, and Chris believes that The laser tag arena, mini-arcade, café mediocre fare but fifties-style cuisine over time the location’s different divi- and bar, which closes after 10PM to mi- that’s sensible for an establishment court- sions, each impressively outfitted, will nors, are also designed to underscore the ing families with young kids and players generate their own buzz and attraction bowling lanes’ centrality. on the go. status. The Coach’s Corner, for example, “Everything feeds into one another,” “People come in the first time because has 22 televisions with DIRECTV and describes Chris. “It’s very synergistic.” they hear it’s a bowling center,” explains distinctive burgers whose recipes are in- If a group of friends, for example, Chris, “but then they see the different spired by famous coaches, plus nightly shows up to bowl but every lane is occu- kinds of food and realize that it’s actually events: Tuesday’s “Trivia and T-Bone pied, they can make a reservation and en- great food. The next time when they’re dinner,” Wednesday specials on wings tertain themselves with the array of waiting for lanes, which happens a lot on and karoke and Thursday’s Texas Hold choices. When their lane opens up, a re- the weekends especially during the sum- ’Em poker tournaments. It also has sever- mote electronic device, such as those dis- mer, they can they get a bite to eat, like al billiard tables and an extended menu tributed in large-scale family restaurants, Page 120 • RePlay Magazine • September 2005 Stars & Strikes The deep-brown wood and sophisticated look of the Coach’s Corner, a full sports bar, creates a mature, relaxed mood for players wanting to kick back with a few pitchers and watch the Braves. Everywhere one looks, Coach’s Corner honors legendary coaches with taste — and tasty menu selections developed with them in mind. selection, creating a full-fledged restau- rant with an autonomy of its own. Eventually, he envisions people just dropping by for a steak or several teenagers getting the urge to play laser tag in the black-light maze and showing up to do so. In order to develop each in- terrelated area’s distinctive appeal, there is no flat admission rate to the facility, only a “pay as you go” system, and ubiq- uitous hand-painted signage over the 52,000 square feet of fun. Entering the Twilight Zone The Twilight Zone, the 5,000-square- foot video and coin-op game component, truly benefits from this selective indepen- dence and has already proven to be “a huge piece of the pie,” constituting “a major part of the revenue,” according to Arctic Thunder and Lethal Enforcer get players’ hearts pumping before they play laser tag. Chris. “It features a standard videogame for purchase, a system that they are look- “fantastic vendor.” complement,” says Steve Paris of ing to extend into the laser tag division. A Tricorps, the official operator, “with a dozen classic games are coin operated. Meeting One’s Maker full-bevel, 85-piece count and about four “A lot of people come and buy a game Standing on his newest construction or five pieces in the bar.” card just to play Mad Wave,” says Brad site in Burlington, Iowa, Hank Harris can Approximately 70% of the games are when asked about popular games. “When see the plan of Brunswick Build to redemption-based. Prominent games fea- we opened, people came in and didn’t re- Bowl’s newest amusement park taking tured include Mad Wave Motion Theatre, alize everything that we have. Now a lot shape, featuring a water park, a 21,000- The Fast and the Furious, Dance Dance of people come just for the game room.” square-foot indoor go-kart track, a sports Revolution, Nothin’ but Net, Cyclone, “Spin-N-Win has better numbers than bar and more, forming 97,000 total Tower of Power and Spin-N-Win, as well the Mad Wave,” adds Rob Geiger, the square feet of fun. as air hockey tables and more, forming a Georgia area manager for Tricorps. “We provide a service that no one else substantial arcade. A second area is dedi- “Nothing but Net does super well with has at this magnitude,” says Hank, whose cated to a bank of linked Daytona games. the bar crowd as well.” excitement and pride in the program Brad VanBuskirk, Chris’ nephew, Rob gives a lot of credit to David shines through his voice. “We’ve de- moved from Pittsburgh to supervise The Capilouto of Greater Southern Distribut- signed and built a lot and have learned so Twilight Zone. Brad says that most of the ing, who supplied the games and many much in the process. Now we can take machines run off game cards available supporting services, describing him as a September 2005 • RePlay Magazine • Page 121 ities for the corporation. He Stars & Strikes started developing Build to Bowl in 1997, and a year later he built the first independent fa- cility in Overland Park, Kan., for Danny Jackson, the Kansas City Royals pitcher who had just retired. Since then, he has guided seven other amusement facilities from the drawing board to ribbon cutting. Regarding Stars and Strikes, Hanks says that while it is pri- marily a bowling center, “the last thing I want you to see when entering is bowling.” Instead, what impresses up- on those who enter is the design of different attractions working symbiotically to create a fun at- mosphere and memorable place — the benchmark of architec- tural vision — with coin-op amusement functioning as one The full redemption counter is the Twilight Zone’s number one hot spot. The entrance to the bowling lanes of the Cumming, Ga. Stars and Strikes may be seen in the background. of the most successful support- everything that was a success and do it Hank has been involved in design and ive elements and as its own draw. What again for other independents while cus- construction with Brunswick Bowling for makes the design truly work, and what will tomizing owner priorities.” 39 years and has built well over 100 facil- sustain its growth, are the many consider- ate, thoughtful people who pulled together x their energies to forge a business that is Page 122 • RePlay Magazine • September 2005 truly the sum of its invaluable parts. Subject “There’s a new market being carved out,” concludes Chris, “and it’s a wonder- ful combination of things. Those who are doing what we’re doing will be pleased and successful.” Swing by Stars and Strikes at 133 Merchant Square when in Cumming, GA 30040 from Sunday through Thursday, 9AM till midnight, and on Friday and Saturday, 9AM till 2AM. Call 678/965- 5707 or email email@example.com. Also take a peek at their cool website, www.starsandstrikes.org. For more information about Brunswick Bowling’s Build to Bowl pro- gram or to explore potential property de- velopment, see www.brunswick bowling. com/newcenter_home and www.brunswickbowling.com/ capitale- quipment or contact Hank Harris directly at 847/687-2010. Finally, to contact Tricorps, call 877/TRICORPS, and to reach David Capilouto, call Greater Southern Distributing at 770/803-3040.
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