By Karen Appold
With 10 years in business and the completion of five entertainment properties in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and California, Entertainment Properties Group was no stranger to the industry. But the company’s executives yearned to do something a little different when considering their next venture.
“We had been looking for a location for quite a while to do a more upscale restaurant concept combined with a luxury bowling and entertainment center,” said Mark Moore, CEO, Entertainment Properties Group, Dallas, Texas. The center, called PINSTACK, is located in Plano, Texas, and opened on January 30. It is the first of its kind for Entertainment Properties Group with its upscale nature and one-of-kind offerings.
PINSTACK features a 28-lane bowling experience, two-story laser tag arena, a laser maze, high-ropes course suspended 20 feet above the gaming center, bumper cars, LED-lit, six-lane rock climbing wall, hundreds of interactive games and simulator technology and a full-service restaurant. The center can accommodate up to 2,000 guests.
When choosing projects, “We use many internal metrics that we have developed that are proprietary,” Moore said. “That said, all of our management teams, both here in the home office (Dallas) and the general managers of all our parks, have a significant amount of input with regard to each new project.”
The venture was no small undertaking, with many players involved. Jason Prowell, COO, Entertainment Properties Group, and Moore are mainly responsible for choosing specific locations for projects. Prowell was also involved in every aspect of the design and construction of PINSTACK.
Brian Cohen, vice president of operations, Entertainment Properties Group, was primarily responsible for sourcing all PINSTACK’s games, attractions and merchandise. Cohen was also involved in working with Sacoa to ensure a seamless integration of its debit card system.
A goal of the center is to be a partner in the community—the kind of place where teenagers come to have their first jobs. “We work with a lot of local business leaders and make most of our charitable contributions to local organizations,” Moore said. “In fact, each of our venues has a close connection with the community in which they are located.”
Appeal for All Ages
The entertainment center is a playground for children of all ages. “We designed the venue with moms and dads in mind so that when they come to PINSTACK, they will enjoy themselves just as much as their kids, if not more,” Moore said. “This type of entertainment concept that appeals to all age groups is definitely a good bet for today’s economy since it facilitates more family outings on the weekends and more corporate groups doing team building or having social outings during the day.”
When determining how much space was needed for each attraction, Moore explained that the team started with the footprint of the building and used their experience from other venues. “Essentially we determined how much space was needed for each one and we made it work with the amount of space we had,” he said. “Although the rock climbing wall is bigger than ones at our other locations, we wanted this attraction to be a larger scale.” Placing the ropes course above the gaming area seemed like the perfect way to not only make it fit, but to give guests a unique experience.
PINSTACK’s operational philosophy is straightforward: to provide a high level of guest service in all areas of the venue. “With the venue being more than 50,000 square feet, it’s key that all of our employees not only adhere to, but believe in our operational philosophy,” Moore said.
In order to meet PINSTACK’s entertainment goals, all staff members are trained in the operational philosophy, as well as in its five core values: integrity, respect, service, excellence and fun.
PINSTACK was designed to appeal to people looking for a high-end dining and entertainment experience. “From families who are looking for a place where everyone can enjoy themselves, to corporations looking for a different kind of meeting space or a company outing, to birthday parties and more, PINSTACK offers something for everyone,” Moore said. The venue’s large bar area that opens up to a spacious, covered patio with big screen TVs, ample seating and fire pit, is the perfect spot for a sports-watching party or quiet glass of wine on a warm evening, while PINSTACK’s private, luxury VIP bowling area is ideal for those looking to host the ultimate party.
Bowling in Style
PINSTACK is the first dining and entertainment venue of its kind in North Texas. It features 28 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, top-of-the-line audio visual and a private VIP bowling area. The venue also features a modern, forward aesthetic with bold, high-end finishes and furnishings. The bowling area offers elevated lane-side food and beverages from a chef-inspired menu, so play isn’t interrupted when customers want food, said John Roush, vice president of new center sales—United States and Canada, Brunswick Bowling Products, Muskegon, Mich. The company handled the installation of the bowling area. The Vegas-style VIP bowling area is open exclusively to adults after 9 p.m.
“Mark (Moore) wanted his staff to focus on the most important aspect of the business—the customers—so they came to us with confidence, knowing we would deliver the most dependable bowling equipment,” Roush said. PINSTACK was specifically impressed with the ease of operation and maintenance on its GS-XTM pinsetters.
“Our state-of-the-art bowling equipment is a perfect complement to the center’s overall modern and attractive design,” Roush continued.
Get Your Game On
PINSTACK offers hundreds of interactive games and simulator technology for all ages. They also have several brand-new games that PINSTACK is the first to have, such as Giant Color Match and an 80-inch Transformers.
PINSTACK’s team is constantly working with game manufacturers from all over the world to test new products. “This helps ensure that most of the time we are the first or one of the first to have new games when they enter the market,” Moore said.
A Futuristic Laser Tag Arena
The two-level laser tag arena features a Star Wars theme complete with futuristic lighting and murals. “PINSTACK came to us looking for something a little different,” said Jeff Schilling, owner/chief architect of experiences, Creative Works, Inc., Mooresville, Ind. “It was important to create a professional and upscale environment that looks like something right out of a movie or video game, so it attracts adults as well as kids. We bring a lot of realism to the environment, which is similar to being on a movie set.”
The arena includes a lot of unusual props. One piece, the cyber core tower, is a 15-foot tall prop similar to a warp core in Star Trek with flashing LED lights inside that responds to the game while in play.
The design is completely custom. “We have CAD and 3D modeling software that allows us to create custom floorplans, scenes and virtual computer environments for our clients to see prior to executing the build,” Schilling said. “This in turn drives our machines in our production facility to create specific-sized pieces and props. We use touch-interactive devices as well as DMX scripted light themes.”
“We also created some target bases for two different teams that allows us to have more of a team game environment,” Schilling explained. “We created unique bases with glowing acrylic that are very futuristic in nature and shape.” Creative Works coordinated with Mike Ewald, sales director, LaserBlast, Plymouth, Mich., in integrating its HyperBlast laser tag system in the arena. PINSTACK selected the HyperBlast system for several reasons, including the industry-exclusive wireless charging racks, operator-friendly control system and proven durability, Ewald said. Wireless charging racks recharge the packs throughout the day and overnight without the need for connectors that are forgotten or break over time.
An expansive variety of games ensures that the system appeals to players of all ages. With fan favorites like National Security, Capture the Flag and Elimination, the laser tag attraction is designed to keep players coming back for more. “This HyperBlast system features dozens of game types for every player, from basic team games for birthday parties to advanced elimination-based games for frequent players,” Ewald said.
According to Schilling, laser tag is a proven attraction that has been in the amusement industry for 25 years. “It’s one of the few attractions that provides a return on investment within a year’s time for most operators,” he said. PINSTACK wanted an attraction that would keep it competitive and stand out.
Interactive Laser Maze
Creative Works, Inc. also created a heart-racing laser maze called Laser Frenzy in which players dodge and weave through an obstacle course of stationary and moving lasers. “It’s very unusual and interesting when it comes to the actual game play itself,” Schilling said. “Players go from one side to the other avoiding all of the lasers for two minutes.”
Again, PINSTACK wanted something customized. “We built a giant blown-out bunker that is two stories tall, with crumbled walls and concrete,” Schilling said. “Players feel as if they are going through an embattlement of sorts to play the game.”
“The future is interactivity between players and guests,” Schilling continued. “Our technology is created around touch sensors, LED lighting pieces and scripted games with our DMX programming.”
The laser maze is a smaller add-on attraction. “It is a quick impulse game that gets kids to be more interactive,” Schilling said. “Instead of touching buttons on a video game they can use their entire bodies and minds to try to get through a web of lasers.”
Rock Climbing Wall
A Spectrum Sports rock climbing wall spanning 24 feet with six climbing stations offers difficulty ranges from beginner to expert with two inverted climbing routes. According to Moore, it is the first rock climbing wall in the world featuring LED-lit handholds, which provides a uniquely different climbing experience. There are no age requirements, but climbers must weigh between 40 and 250 pounds.
Online Bookings for Events
Online booking will be available for birthday parties in the near future. It will be a seamless experience where the guest can select packages and event space in real time and can also pay the deposit to hold an event. “Given the popularity of the concept, we have opted not to turn this feature on just yet and we are doing all bookings directly with guests,” Moore said. “Many people haven’t even had the chance to see inside the building so we want to make sure we are guiding them into the party experience that best suits their needs.”
Upscale Food Offerings
The venue features a full-service restaurant completely separate from the gaming and bowling areas, two full bars offering guests 24 beers and six wines on tap, top-shelf liquors, craft cocktails and even a full-service, gourmet coffee and dessert bar. PINSTACK’s restaurant features a menu of chef-inspired, modern American classics.
“With the menu, we wanted to ensure there was something for every taste palate, while maintaining an elevated list of offerings,” Moore explained. The menu features creative takes on old favorites, such as its signature macaroni and cheese pops with tomato basil sauce, bistro burgers and sandwiches, salads, pizza and entrées such as 12-ounce, New York steak and garlic parmesan fries. Since the menu features fresh, seasonal items, the chef will update it seasonally to ensure the freshest ingredients possible.
Food is an extremely important component to PINSTACK. “Delivering a unique dining and entertainment experience with great food was something missing from the market and therefore one of the reasons we developed the concept in the first place,” Moore said.
With the Plano PINSTACK location as the company’s flagship, Entertainment Properties Group has exciting growth plans, including another venue in Fort Worth to open in 2016.