One of the hottest new trends in the restaurant industry is the concept of “eatertainment” — companies that work in the space as “a guest experience that involves food and beverage dining before, after, or during other activities.” The old normal was dinner and a show or maybe even dinner at a show (in the days of dinner theaters), but today’s diners are looking to be a little more actively involved.
Think bowling alleys with food and drink options that rise far above a dimly-lit snack bar and adult arcades that offer upscale food and proper cocktails — luxuries that likely aren’t part of your first ‘Space Invaders’ memories. Other venues concentrate on more modern trends like online gaming, lawn games like cornhole, or the latest trend, pickleball. Whatever your game of choice, the unifying factor is that the experience must be elevated and novel.
This list is merely a drop in the bucket, but it’s a fun overview of great spots popping up around the South where you can eat, drink, and play!
Tee Line | Nashville, TN
106 Duluth Ave., Nashville, TN 37209 • (615) 439-1024
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m
Curling in Nashville? We thought it was crazy when we first heard, too. After all, isn’t that the shuffleboard on ice that people go crazy about every four years during the Winter Olympics? (And then forget about until the next winter Olympics?) That’s the one. At least, it was until Tee Line came to town. Owned by former NFL quarterback Marc Bulger, Tee Line offers a chance for him to feed his competitive drive while introducing Music City to the fun of curling.
The modern facility in the burgeoning Nations neighborhood of West Nashville offers three full sheets of ice so that six teams can compete simultaneously. First-timers can sign up for group or private curling lessons from trained instructors, and most guests can get the hang of the game in a single lesson. If you’re just not into sliding on the ice or want to try something else between games, Tee Line also offers four bowling alleys, a large bar and dining area, and 26 televisions scattered around the establishment, usually tuned to sporting events. (Especially if Bulger’s former team, the Rams, is playing!)
A long list of affordable cocktails is available, along with a dozen beers on tap, many of them local craft brews. The food at Tee Line is definitely hearty — appropriate for the Canadian appetites that have dominated the sport at most Olympics. Bowls of chili, chowder, and gumbo will warm you up after a stint on the ice, and a dozen wings while watching an NFL game is downright mandatory.
For lighter fare, there are some delightful salads, including a sweet and spicy Bang Bang shrimp option, as well as pizzas available with cauliflower crusts to avoid gluten. The kitchen has a love of spice, as fiery ghost peppers show up in a creamy sauce on one of the pizzas and in the pepper jam and cheese that top the Ghost Burger. That’s one way to stay warm after an ice session.
Maybe curling in Nashville isn’t that crazy after all!
Your 3rd Spot | Atlanta, GA
400 Chattahoochee Row NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 • (770) 230-3033
Hours: Monday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Friday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 1 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Since the earliest days of British pub culture, businesses have sought to become “your third place.” Basically, your first place is your home, and your second place is where you work, so a place like Your 3rd Spot is your home away from home — that place where you can meet friends, play games, converse, and enjoy excellent food and drink.
That’s the idea behind this extravagant experiential venue in Upper Westside Atlanta, named “The Eatertainment Concept of the Future” by FSR Magazine (which covers the full-service restaurant industry). Your 3rd Spot combines classic arcade games, boutique bowling, pool tables, shuffleboard, table tennis, darts, foosball, and other games under one massive roof with a main floor and a quieter mezzanine level. Step outdoors to a massive patio with dozens of yard games.
Guests purchase Experience Passes that are good for three hours of gaming plus discounted bowling, so play to your heart’s content for the duration of your pass. If you’re not a gamer, there are plenty of spaces to chill in a “vibier” atmosphere, including VIP spaces on the mezzanine, semi-private bowling suites, or at the 50-foot bar.
The chef-driven menu rises far above what you’d expect at a bowling alley, and groups can reserve dining packages in advance — for parties ranging from two to 2,000! Alternatively, you can order from the menu of small plates designed to be shared and paired with drinks and conversation. Guests can find old favorites like smoked pork ribs, flatbreads, meatballs, and tacos, but there is a more elevated side of the menu aimed at foodies, too. From oysters, spicy tuna on crispy rice, and wagyu truffle toast to brisket agnolotti pasta and a rich roasted bone marrow dish with sourdough toast for smearing and sharing, this is not your grandpa’s bowling alley food.
The cocktail program at Your 3rd Spot is also robust, with some poured from a draft system for speed and consistency and others made to order. You can even order the “Cocktail Tr33,” a shareable sampler of four signature drinks arranged in a vine-covered metal framework. Between the food and fun, three hours at Your 3rd Spot will fly by!
Farm + Feed | Plano, TX
7401 Lone Star Dr. B120, Plano, TX 75024 • (432) 356-3467
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight
The stereotype of online video gamers is that they never leave the couch, much less the house. But Farm + Feed hopes to change that for residents of Plano and the Greater Dallas area with a highly comfortable and inspiring space for gamers of all ilks to come together to play.
Guests can reserve single PCs, Duo setups, or booths for three people or more to log on and play their favorite PC games on giant monitors while enjoying food and drink from a menu of delicious options with a global bent. Some of the gaming spaces feel like a cozy library, while others offer a more high-tech casino vibe. There are even outdoor options in case your mother tells you to go outside and play.
Racing enthusiasts can find consoles designed for virtual carting, and old-school board game enthusiasts can pick from a library of favorites and play at the bar for as long as they want for $5. Pull out a nostalgic standby or try a new mystery game without having to buy it first. The possibilities are endless. Of course, if you’re playing at the bar, you might want to have a drink or two while you figure out your next move. Fortunately, Farm + Feed has you covered with cocktails, wine, and beer, plus a few tasty mocktails if you need to stay sharp.
The food at Farm + Feed is a surprise compared to traditional arcade food. Start with an order of Filipino-inspired mini longanisa corn dogs with banana ketchup or a healthy tray of hummus and seasonal vegetables if you want to go the international route. Or, you can lean into the gamer stereotype with an order of Flamin’ Cheetos corn cheese balls. (Just wash your hands before you pick up your cards!)
Heartier options include a selection of handheld tacos, grilled pork lettuce cups, and fried bao bun sandwiches, or larger entrées like smashburgers or chicken sandwiches. Satiate your craving for sweets with cannolis or a spiced apple hand pie. Farm + Feed offers ample reason to get out of the house.
Rock n’ Bowl | New Orleans, Louisiana
Mid City Lanes Rock n’ Bowl New Orleans: 3016 S. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans, LA 70118 • (504) 861-1700
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Closed Sunday and Monday
Rock n’ Bowl de Lafayette: 905 Jefferson St., Lafayette, LA 70501 • (337) 534-8880
Hours: Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Closed Monday and Tuesday
Rock n’ Bowl might be the original eatertainment venue. In 1989, Mid City Lanes added live music to the mix after almost fifty years of just being a bowling alley, and Rock n’ Bowl became a New Orleans institution. Of course, live music is liable to break out anytime in the Big Easy, but at Rock n’ Bowl, you can rock out while you knock down the pins.
Bands set up on a large stage right next to the alleys, so you don’t have to interrupt your game while listening to a regular schedule of some of NOLA’s favorite rock, blues, and soul performers. A newer Rock n’ Bowl in Lafayette also offers live music, but seeing as it’s right in the heart of Cajun country, the acts skew a little more toward zydeco. Not that that’s at all a bad thing!
At the New Orleans Rock n’ Bowl, beer, wine, and cocktails flow from multiple bars around the building. The food from the kitchen is above average for a bowling alley, with a menu that boasts chicken strips, cheeseburgers, shrimp remoulade, pizza, boudin, and Po’boys.
But wait, there’s more.
Sharing the same parking lot with Mid City Lanes is Rock n’ Bowl’s sister restaurant, Ye Olde College Inn, a fixture since 1933. In 2003, the Rock n’ Bowl owners purchased the venerable institution, then remodeled it after Hurricane Katrina.
Once a neighborhood spot, Ye Olde College Inn has emerged as a leader in the farm-to-table movement. The culinary team even plants its own urban farm across the street to grow some of the produce. Combine a dinner at the Inn with a few games of ten pins and a rock-and-roll show, and you have yourself a quintessential New Orleans evening.
Game Terminal | Nashville, TN
201 Terminal Ct., Nashville, TN 37210 • (615) 610-2460
Hours: Monday Through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Game Terminal is a double play on words. First, the massive building is tucked into the back of a complex of shipping terminals in an industrial strip southeast of downtown Nashville. But “terminal” is also a technical term for a computer keyboard and monitor combo, and Game Terminal features monitors galore — more than 250 classic video games and pinball machines spanning four decades of gaming history.
The venue is the brainchild of Patrick McKennon, a longtime pinball and video game collector who amassed so many games over the years that the collection outgrew his home. McKennon purchased an eight-acre parcel of land to construct his dream video playground. This massive 18,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor complex also serves as the showroom for his retail pinball machine business.
The decor inside Game Terminal is space-age modern, like stepping inside a game itself. Most of the games are either free or cost about a dollar to play, and if you decide you need a little fresh air after a few hours in the dark, step outside into the 8,000-square-foot outdoor patio where you can continue to enjoy shuffleboard, cornhole, or basketball on a large court.
There is an outdoor bar serving beer and cocktails and room for food trucks, which sometimes supplement the venue’s snack offerings. Game Terminal features three different bars and offers great happy hour deals on cocktails, beer, and wine during the week. Comfy couches and table seating are spread around the complex, so you can take a load off while enjoying a sip or bite between bouts with those pesky Pacman ghosts.
The food menu at Game Terminal features plenty of decadent pub grub, from loaded fries to chili to fried pickles. There are also a few healthier and more substantial options. A couple of salads are on the menu, along with a pretty legit Nashville hot chicken strip sandwich. The most extensive section of the menu is filled with various versions of hot dogs and smashburgers, which are perfect arcade fare.
There’s plenty of parking, and admission is free for anyone over 21 and only $10 for youngsters. Grab a few friends and tell them to meet you at Game Terminal for a blast from your past.
COMING SOON: Crush Yard
3365 S Morgans Point Rd., Mt Pleasant, SC 29466
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave lately, you’ve probably been exposed to the fast-growing sport of pickleball. A hybrid of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, pickleball is easy to learn and play, and it’s a great equalizer that allows people of different ages and abilities to participate together. Usually played on a portion of a regulation tennis court, more and more venues are popping up dedicated to the sport.
Some complain that pickleballers are taking up the former courts that tennis players used and where youngsters played basketball and that the monotonous “thwack” of the paddle against the plastic ball can get really old really quickly. So a great solution is to move the game indoors to new facilities dedicated exclusively to the sport.
While it’s not open yet, Crush Yard in Mt. Pleasant near Charleston looks like it will be a fine option for pickleball players of all abilities. When completed, the nearly 40,000 square foot space will feature eight indoor pickleball courts, as well as an ample outdoor space for guests to lounge around fire pits, enjoy live music, and play yard games like cornhole and giant Jenga.
The culinary program will be led by South Carolina native Brandon Buck, who serves as Crush Yard’s Executive Chef. He has created an upscale pub menu spotlighting American favorites with a local touch. The beverage menu will offer an extensive selection of self-serve beer, wine, and cocktails on tap. The team at Crush Yard has partnered with local brewers Holy City Brewing and One Nation Coffee out of Summerville to add quality and regional influence to the beverage offerings. Crush Yard will pour custom One Nation coffee in-house and sell grounds for coffee lovers to take home. Holy City has created a special microbrew just for Crush Yard called Dinker’s Delight, a wheat variety hopped with Citra and fermented with orange purée.
Backed by former NFL players and other notable investors, Crush Yard looks to expand across the region. Until then, we’ll just keep an eye on Mt. Pleasant for the impending opening.
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