46 The NaTioNal CuliNary review • Sep Tember/oCTober 2018
aT The bar let’s play
Social gaming, eating and drinking
is taking the bar scene by storm.
By Amelia Levin
Gaming at the bar is heating up. From modern bowling and ping-pong to darts and video games, even axe-throwing, restaurant and nightlife veterans are ditching
tradition to cater to a younger generation of bar-goers, day-drinkers, event planners
and others with “experience-driven” social gaming concepts.
What began as a rash of arcade bars a few years ago has expanded to include
other forms of entertainment. Punch Bowl Social, the Denver-based social gaming
bar/restaurant with locations around the country, features not just arcades, but also
bowling, karaoke and video games. At Flight Club in London, Chicago and soon-to-be Manchester, England, bar patrons throw darts outfitted with high-tech scoreboards
while enjoying creative cocktails, craft beer, elevated snacks, sushi, steak and more.
“Millennials like to eat and drink well, but they also like to collect experiences.
And, they are not bound by traditional dining choices,” says Robert Thompson, founder/
CEO of Punch Bowl Social, in describing the gaming bar/restaurant’s core audience.
Thompson says Punch Bowl still attracts groups and parties of all ages and
demographics, a fact with which Jussi Roy, food and beverage director for SPiN, a multi-unit ping-pong concept with headquarters in New York, agrees. “At any time, you can