Bowling and entertainment centre Pinstack won FEC of the Year at the Amusement Expo International in Las Vegas in March. Kathy Archer reports
Getting the ball rolling
Entertainment Properties Group (EPG) was founded in Dallas, Texas, in 2005. Recognising the need for different customer segments and ages in the entertainment sector, EPG developed two different operating models: Pinstack and IT’Z. Thirteen years later, EPG owns and operates about a dozen venues in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.
The goal of the IT’Z brand is to create fun experiences for families, offering a more typical FEC experience. The IT’Z venues combine affordable family dining with quality entertainment, including game areas packed with more than 150 video and ticket redemption games, as well as indoor rides and attractions. Entertainment Properties Group president and CEO Mark Moore notes that: “the biggest challenge in any operation is just getting the first one open. Trying to design the space efficiently, staffing correctly and doing a lot of training on the spot. That is more challenging than it may seem, but we can go from zero guests the day before we open to providing a great experience for 2,000 the next day.”
An award-winning service
Pinstack, meanwhile, is an upscale family entertainment operation, described by one online reviewer as ‘the perfect place to celebrate’. Clearly others agree, because the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA) named Pinstack FEC of the Year at the recent Amusement Expo held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pinstack was quick to credit its team members, who were very excited about this recognition.
Pinstack’s win was secured by its outstanding accomplishments in providing games and attractions, food service, marketing, social media, charitable activity, safety and security, staff engagement, and interior and exterior design, along with a review from a secret shopper. The secret shopper, who visited the chain’s Las Colinas, Texas store, reported a fantastic experience and called out Pinstack team members by name for “above and beyond” service.
When asked why he thinks Pinstack stood out, CEO Moore comments: “Pinstack offers an elevated dining and entertainment experience that is unique in this segment. Our venues feature modern aesthetics with bold finishes, full-service restaurants, plus full bars and private dining areas. It is the perfect setting for a date night, party, or corporate event, which makes our venues stand out as a match for every aspect of our guests’ lives.”
EPG management created Pinstack to be a premier dining and entertainment destination. They have worked with a chef to feature ‘modern American’ cuisine, with a menu that is freshened up with new items at least twice each year. They also offer monthly specials that follow seasonal trends, so that there is always something new to enjoy.
The Pinstack venues are typically 45,000 to 50,000 square feet, each of them featuring a restaurant offering a menu with local and regional cuisine, as well as a full bar and a private dining area. They also offer state-of-the-art bowling lanes with lane-side food and beverage service, as well as a private VIP bowling area. In addition to chef-inspired dining and bowling, Pinstack also features a two-level laser tag arena, a rock climbing wall, bumper cars, and a high ropes course suspended 20 feet above 100 of the newest video games and simulator technology.
“Pinstack is a playground for kids of all ages, with a chef-inspired restaurant and state-of-the-art entertainment,” says Moore. “We’ve designed the venue with moms and dads in mind so that when they come to Pinstack for an afternoon or evening, they will enjoy themselves just as much as their kids, if not more.”
The secrets of success
CEO Moore said that, while his background is in banking and finance, he decided the opportunity to spend his time eating pizza, playing games and bowling was too much to pass up. According to Moore, the single item that has been key to the success of the businesses has been their culture. To figure out how to connect with a generation that has been using electronic devices since they were toddlers, EPG simply asked its team members how they want EPG to communicate with them.
The management at EPG is able to maintain their focus – and that of their team – by following their mission statement: ‘We create fun and memorable experiences for our guests and team by providing engaging dining and entertainment destinations.’ The words ‘We’ and ‘Team’ say it all, Moore explains, adding, “we are a values-based organization and we constantly engage our team members in the decision-making process.”
“Ultimately,” said Moore, “our model is all about a sense of place and engagement for our guests to get out of the house and spend time together.”