No longer are meetings simply serious affairs. More and more groups are discovering the art of mixing business with pleasure at upscale entertainment “complexes” that have meeting and event space integrated into their designs. Take a look at five such venues that have opened in Denver, Evergreen and Longmont over the past five years.
Ace Eat Serve
Housed in the old Storz Garage at the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania in Denver’s Uptown neighborhood, Ace Eat Serve has an industrial look that serves as a backdrop for three distinct but linked spaces: a PingPong Hall, dining room serving Asian-style comfort food, and bar with garage doors that bring the outdoors in. The outdoor patio has bar seating, picnic tables made from recycled materials and two custom concrete pingpong tables. Ace can host a client event or celebration in a private room holding 20 guests; an outdoor or semicovered patio party for 150 people; or a large corporate event for up to 500 throughout the space.
For the third year in a row, CoBiz Insurance hosted its carrier partners for a 3-6 p.m. thank-you event recently held at Ace Eat Serve, a sister restaurant to Steuben’s and Vesta. The company rented out the entire Ping-Pong Hall in the back portion of the venue and also had corn hole and a big table out for Jenga to round out the experience. “It’s very easygoing, and the atmosphere is fantastic,” says Erin Tucker, who works in operations and plans events for CoBiz Insurance. It’s a welcome break for “people in the daily grind of employee benefits.”
Golf entertainment in the state received a boost in August 2015 with the opening of Topgolf International’s first Colorado location in Centennial. The 65,000-square-foot venue, including 3,000 square feet of private event space holding up to 200, is among 31 Topgolf locations worldwide. The three-level Topgolf Centennial includes 102 climatecontrolled hitting bays, a full-service restaurant, three bars, a rooftop terrace with fire pits and more than 250 high-definition, flat-screen TVs. Plus, the lower-level lounge accommodates up to 82 and has pool tables, shuffleboard and Xbox Kinect.
Group use of Topgolf Centennial has been “all over the map from corporate happy hours to an entire day here” for both meetings and fun, says Director of Sales Christa Garcia. “We’ve also had corporate fundraisers for nonprofits and reserve the golf bays in front of the event space. We can accommodate pretty much anything.”
In addition to the primary indoor event space, the rooftop terrace can hold up to 150 and a conference room accommodates small groups of 12. Up to 1,200 can be hosted if the parking lot with 425 spaces is transformed into event space.
Garcia emphasizes, “The majority of our guests don’t golf. I like to think of it as similar to a bowling alley. About 99 percent end up playing!”
Punch Bowl Social
This local company opened its first location in Denver not quite five years ago and has rapidly expanded to cities like Portland, Austin, Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Minneapolis with more locations opening later this year and early 2018. With large, visually appealing interiors, Punch Bowl Social blends an upscale, diner-inspired menu and fresh bar offerings (including sip-worthy punch bowls) with a vintage gaming experience.
Activities in Denver include a giant Scrabble board, billiards, bowling, darts, pingpong, Skee-Ball, arcade games, bocce ball, two private karaoke rooms and more. In its entirety, Punch Bowl Social Denver can host up to 1,000 for a reception or book the Holiday Lodge for a maximum of 75 people, the Mezzanine for up to 150, and the Dart Room for as many as 80.
For the past four years, Punch Bowl Social Denver has celebrated its anniversary on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving by hosting a fundraiser for Denver Dumb Friends League, which rescues animals and finds them homes. A $10 ticket includes all games, two drink tickets, light appetizers and a live DJ, with 100 percent of ticket sales going directly to the charity.
Denver welcomes its second location with Punch Bowl Social Stapleton opening this summer. While preserving the historic structure of the iconic air traffic control tower at Denver’s former airport, the venue will deliver 5,000 square feet of modern space on the first and second floors of the building, a rooftop deck, outdoor “flex space” for events, and a 14,000-square-foot outdoor activity area with bocce, hopscotch and other games. Punch Bowl Social’s corporate headquarters will occupy the third floor.
For The Win & Lucky Strike
Opening mid-December in Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall, For The Win (FTW) may be the city’s newest amusing place but it’s linked to Lucky Strike Lanes by a shared bar and is part of the Lucky Strike Entertainment group. FTW Denver is the third location in the nation after Chicago and Albany and utilizes the concept of merging state-of-the-art gaming with gastropub cuisine like candy bacon BLTs and ahi tuna spoons, a bar with 24 beers on tap and a wide range of cocktails.
Encompassing around 15,000 square feet, there are more than 100 arcade games. “There are 190 user stations, so 190 people can be playing at once, with games lasting from 30 seconds to five minutes. FTW can accommodate 400 to 500 people,” says Director of Sales Felicia Falsetto-Hulgan. The Capital Suite with two 60-inch TVs and A/V capabilities is a private space that often serves as home base for groups enjoying FTW or all-day meetings with breaks for game playing, she notes.
In tandem with the opening of FTW, Lucky Strike was transformed with an edgy and stylish rocker vibe, similar to Lucky Strike’s flagship Hollywood location. New lighting and sound systems, furniture and video walls are highlights along with 55-inch TVs for each bowling lane. Those who don’t want to bowl can relax in big overstuffed leather chairs or play shuffleboard, billiards and pingpong.
Possible has hosted quarterly events at both FTW and Lucky Strike for approximately 70 people. “For FTW, we rented a room for our food and as a central gathering place, then everyone just let loose with the game play,” says Executive Office Administrator Heidi Hamilton. “Being a tech company, most of us love video games. It was nice that the time we rented wasn’t crowded, so it almost felt like we had the entire place to ourselves, which was great!”
The Wild Game Entertainment Experience, Evergreen & Longmont
Colorado-based The Wild Game Entertainment Experience has expanded its concept from Evergreen, opening a Longmont location in February with a VIP grand opening that attracted 600 guests and with plans to expand to other Front Range locations soon. The 28,000-squarefoot restaurant and entertainment venue in Longmont features a classic American menu, two bars, eight lanes of bowling, billiards, darts, pingpong, shuffleboard, foosball, corn hole, an arcade with 40-plus options, and live music on Saturday evenings.
The large Clubhouse area is ideal for large groups and the upstairs Loft also can be booked along with private rooms, making it possible to host groups of 10 to 1,000. The venue, a totally transformed Office Depot location, also has a second-story, open-air deck with views of the Continental Divide and Long’s Peak. Details about the Evergreen location can be found in the Event Profile article starting on page 26
“Our owners researched for two years, flying around the country seeing family entertainment centers,” shares Director of Sales and Marketing CJ Lydon. “They knew they wanted to expand after the success in Evergreen to a place where the population is growing and where there are families. There was little banquet space in Longmont and places where families and groups could get together and have fun.”
The moral of the story is keep it easy, make it lighthearted and get business accomplished all at once at Colorado’s new-style gaming/ dining venues.