Monday, January 26, 2009

StrikeCity is now open

StrikeCity, the new upscale bowling alley and bar, quietly opened Saturday at the EpiCentre, beginning a week of pre-opening festivities that culminates in Friday's grand opening party (see below for how to win tickets).

I got the grand tour this afternoon, and, like all things EpiCentre, the new upscale alley is beautifully designed.

(Click here for a really cool panorama courtesy of Observer photographer Gary O'Brien.)

Indeed, General Manager James White points out, "This isn't your father's bowling alley."

Instead, StrikeCity is "next-generation" bowling -- "the most high-tech, state-of-the-art experience you can have in a bowling alley," says Thom Perez of Full House Productions.

There are 12 bowling lanes in the main room (capacity 365), which consists of a large dining area, two bars and a game room. Up to eight people can bowl on a single lane. And instead of the plastic chairs, fluorescent lighting and grimy linoleum floors of yesteryear, bowlers can wait their turns on high-backed leather banquets and cushy bar stools on gleaming hardwood floors, all lighted by chandeliers and track lighting.

Two private rooms offer an additional six lanes of bowling. If the rooms aren't booked, the public can bowl on those lanes as well.

Another standout -- the sheer amount of flatscreen TVs located throughout the 25,000-square-foot space. About 75 in all and not one of them is smaller than 50 inches. Twelve-foot screens mark the end of each lane so you'll never miss a minute of the game.

A full menu -- heavy on the Italian thanks to StrikeCity's partnership with Libretto's Pizza next door -- is also available.

The facility is smoke-free until 10 p.m. seven days a week. Smoking is not permitted on the lanes. The facility becomes 21 and up starting at 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Prices are pretty standard -- White tells me the alley wanted to keep things affordable for everyone.

  • Shoe rentals are $4 a pair. (Socks are also available to buy at $3 a pair.)
  • From 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, cost is $5.95 per person, per game.
  • From 5-close Monday-Thursday, $6.95 per person, per game.
  • Friday and Saturday nights, the total cost for one lane is $45 an hour and up to eight people can bowl on a single lane.
  • Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and all day Sunday games are $35 an hour.
My early prediction: Waits will be long since there are only 12 lanes (two private rooms are available to rent as well), but there are enough distractions -- from the dance floor and huge main bar to the plethora of plasmas -- that make it more than just a bowling alley.

I'll have a full review of StrikeCity on Friday online and in CLT.

Want tickets to Friday's grand opening party? E-mail me by 5 p.m. today and tell me about the most fun you've ever had at a bowling alley.


Chris said...

If you get the chance to speak to them, you should tell them their web site is embarrassing. What site doesn't list something like, oh, their phone number on it? I was trying to find info about the place this weekend and I wasn't exactly hopeful about getting a quick e-mail reply. Still, looking forward to checking it out.

Chris said...

Also, can you sort of clarify something on the price? You're saying $35/hour for as many as 8 people? on a Saturday afternoon? That's not $35 PER PERSON, right? We're talking $35 for the hour, with up to eight people on one lane? So then on Saturday nights, if I show up with seven friends, we're paying $45 total per hour, right?

Sarah Aarthun said...

Chris, you are correct: it's $35 or $45 TOTAL for the hour, NOT per person, depending on the day.

And I agree on the website thing. As carefully thought out and designed as the EpiCentre venues are, the websites seem like afterthoughts.

Clayj said...

Do they have a pro shop where you can buy custom bowling balls, shirts, and other accessories? Because I would LOVE to get a ball that looks like the Earth and a shirt with my name embroidered on it so I can stop looking like such a tourist when I bowl.

Clay (all-time best game = 206)

Anonymous said...

I have tickets to the Grand Opening and it's Saturday, Jan 31st not Friday

Lawrence said...

Any Roy Munson appearances planned?

Anonymous said...

For a really great New Year's Resolution, would the Observer please banish the use of the word "upscale" forever?

Anonymous said...

High-Tech & Bowling Alley, kinda like putting 'dubs' on my paw-paw's tractor.

Sarah Aarthun said...

To Anon 6:39:

There are two grand opening parties (three if you count the pre-grand-opening party Thursday) -- one on Friday and one on Saturday. The tickets I have are to Friday's party.

Anonymous said...

If they have 25K sq ft, then why didn't they put in more than 12 lanes? Seems like they are going to get a lot of people who will never come back to visit because it just takes too long to get a lane. I already don't want to try it out because it will just seem like too much of a hassle.

Anonymous said...

appears to me its a "bar" that happens to have a few lanes to bowl on,as opposed to a bowling alley with a bar. Throw in some video games and pool tables. VERY casual bowlers will enjoy it. If your a bowler, it may not be for you.

RS said...

They only have 12 lanes so they can assure high interest in the place. All the other cities with the "upscale", $35/hr bowling alleys in their downtowns do the same thing. It's often a big deal/occasion if you get in.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the first paying customers on Saturday afternoon. If you are looking for a bowling alley, look elsewhere. Strike City is more Jillians than anything else. It is very well decorated, and there is a lot of space, but the lanes are not meant for bowlers. They won't be oiled, they only have plastic house balls, and the lighting is very dark.

That being said if yo uare looking for a fun night out, with bowling as a distraction, it is your place. If you are just looking to bowl, I'd suggest going elsewhere.

P.S. A bud light is $3.75

Anonymous said...

If they really want to be successful and increase useage they need to join the 21st century and ban smoking 24/7.

Sarah Aarthun said...

To Anon 8:58:

The manager assures me the floors are oiled every day and the balls are urethane.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, ban the frigin' smoking already.

It's only a matter of time before this backassward city bans it altogether like most metropolitan areas in the rest of the country. So why not be ahead of the game.

What Moron chooses to smoke in this day and age anyway ?

Anonymous said...

I was excited until I read that smoking would be allowed. What a shame to put all that money into such a nice facility and have it ruined by cigarrette smoke. What a joke. If you ask me, the stench and fog from smoke is a deal breaker. Just because no one lights up until 10pm doesn't mean the stench doesn't linger the next day at 10pm. Smoke will permeate everything in the place. No way to get rid of that smell. Nope, no longer excited. In fact, I don't see a whole lot of difference from "yesteryear" except new furniture. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

Private rooms?? In a bowling alley??


It wouldn't be Charlotte without a private, exclusive room where the people who used to be rich, but still think they are "somebody" can get away from the teeming hordes of unwashed humanity.

Jesse said...

I went to the "soft" opening and the food is less than average. It's a good idea and I think they'll do a lot of business, but the food needs improvement.

J said...

1. Smoking cigarettes is not illegal
2. Smokers smoke more when they drink
3. Bars/Bowling Alleys serve alcohol
4. Duh

natalie said...

i will be glad when it opens. i'm sick of going to the crap-tastic lanes in charlotte that are old, run-down, and nasty. and the clientele at them is typically not the types of people i wanna share close space with for a few hours. it'll be nice to have a short drive to something NICE for a change! and i love the idea of the high-tech bowling. i've been to such bowling alleys in other large cities and they are quite better than what you'd expect.

Anonymous said...

How does there end up being a political discussion about smoking? Look people smoking is part of the economy of this state, always will be. Everyone wants to ban smokers and smoking and get rid of tobacco companies, goo luck, way too much money is generated from them. I smoke, and am fine if I have to go to a provate section to do so, but banning it completely forcing me to go outside in the cold is just as unfair as you all claim it is to have to breathe the second hand smoke.

Jullie82 said...

It is really sad to see that typically the only opinion you see on blogs are soooo negative. Its like people couldn't find something positive to say if their life depended on it. I hate that. But for all the negative opinions it will blow it out of the water, the lines will be insane and people will wait and they will need a mac truck to haul all the money it will make....

We should all be happy and excited for Charlotte's growth espeically in these tough economic times, really people...

Anonymous said...

Drinking is legal. Driving is legal. I pay tax dollars to build and maintain the roads. By some people's logic, I should be allowed to drink all I want, then drive home on these PUBLIC roads. If you don't want to take the risk of me crashing into you, then stay off the road.

But a majority of drivers at some point decided they would like to drive on public streets with no drunk drivers (or at least fewer drunk drivers). So they banded together and made it illegal to drink and drive.

Eventually, a majority of people who wish to eat dinner or have a drink or listen to live music without someone else's smoke or going home smelling like an ash tray will band together and make it illegal to smoke in such establishments. You can cry property rights all you like. But when you own an establishment to which the public is invited, the rules say the owner will adhere to certain guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of his customers, whether it's food safety, building safety, or the health of my lungs.

Anonymous said...

My god there are some mouthbreathers around here.

Private establishments are just that - the public is NOT "invited". I'm so sick of this wussified generation of do-gooders who haven't the slightest clue of what has set this country apart from the rest.

Don't like smoke? Then don't go to places that allow it. No one is forcing you to go bowling uptown. Go somewhere else.


amy said...

I was planning on having a birthday party at strike city in a few weeks and found out some interesting information. One that if you are interested in reserving lanes you have to do it for at least 2 hours. Each hour costs $50per lane. Also they want you to match the money spent on bowling say $100 on the lane with money spent on food and drink there. So you are looking at least at $200 for one hour of bowling. They did say that you could walk in without a reservation and hope to get a lane for $44. Guess they are unaware that the economy is in the shitter. Needless to say I will be spending my money elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

People defending the rights of smokers in enclosed establishments are most likely smokers themselves. I don't know a single nonsmoker who likes the smell. Newsflash to smokers: IT STINKS! And yes, you smell like that even when you're not lighting up and everyone around you can tell you're a smoker. Gross. If you want to light up and ruin your health and lungs, so be it. But do it outside, in your car, or better yet, inside your house so the rest of the world doesn't have to smell it. Nothing like going home after a night out on the town and reeking like a stale, dirty ashtray.

As progressive as Charlotte is, and as much as it is growing, it will never be a world class city until it addresses public smoking. The days of tobacco being king are over, people.

If you don't want to go outside and freeze to smoke then here's another newsflash: QUIT! Besides, we live in the South. Its not that cold here. What are you a wuss?

Anonymous said...

I'm not defending the rights of smokers - there is no such thing as "smokers' rights".

And read this a few times too - I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

I'm defending the rights of the private business owners who already have to deal with arcane government regulations and don't need another stupid rule like this to tell them how to run their business.

Smoking is not illegal, and if someone decides to cater their business to that demographic then that is their choice. If enough people choose not to go because of the smoke, the private businessman, in his own interest, will ban smoking in his establishment. How f---ing hard is that for people to understand?

Again, no one is forcing you to spend your money there or even walk inside. Don't like it? Go. Somewhere. Else.

Anonymous said...

As evidence, look at the numerous businesses, including bars, that have voluntarily become smoke-free because that's what their customers want. We don't need Mother Government to solve all our problems people. If for some reason a bar wants to remain smokey, does it really harm you? No, that is their choice.

The world runs on incentives. When their is enough incentive to go smoke-free, they will do it. Stop acting like everything is a public place and you're an owner.

Anonymous said...

Most bars ALLOW smoking because their competitors do. If you level the playing field you eliminate that "incentive". Besides, more than anything, it's a public health issue. Therefore, maybe government should intervene. The products and chemicals found in cigarrettes can't be sold over the counter because they're toxic. Other cities have already successfully tackled this issue. I used to live in Columbus, OH where smoking has been banned for 5 years. I also lived there before the ban went into effect. I can tell you from personal experience it works. Businesses were not adversely affected. If anything, it improved. What owners don't realize is that a lot of business stays away because they don't like the smoke, or worse, they're allergic. I'm one of those customers who already takes advantage of the "right" to go elsewhere, which is exactly what I do. I am always looking for entertainment business to patronize that are smoke-free. Look at NY, look at California... heck, look at SC... Charlotte really needs to get on board. One day, smoking will entirely be a thing of the past. It's only a matter of time before it is "snuffed" out completely.

Anonymous said...

Pointing to other cities that have already used the heavy hand of government to impose its will on private business is not solid evidence in your favor.

The fact of the matter is that no one in favor of a smoking ban has ever owned a restaurant or bar, had any skin in the game, or had their life savings on the line, and have never been on the receiving end of over-regulation by the government.

Until you have been in that situation and had your rights as a private business owner trampled on, you have no credibility or voice in this discussion. Go home now, your mother is calling.

Anonymous said...

And AGAIN, there is no such thing as a "public health" issue inside a PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENT.

Contaminated municipal water is a public health issue.

Smoking in a bar is not a public health issue.

Again, what is so f---ing hard to understand about this?

bowling lover! said...

hey the new website is up.. it's pretty snazzy!

i went to the opening last night... i was so awesome! i'm definitely going back and really want to get my company on board with going for lunch once a month... they have some packages out that are nominally priced for lunch time bowling, which i find to be pretty neat!

Anonymous said...

It's only smoking AFTER ten p.m. so those of you who are against smokers, come before then.
The food is good, it comes from next door, the italian restaurant, not from StrikeCity, they share a kitchen. Stick with the pizza's, they are really fantastic.
The service is superb as well.
I like this place, and will return again and again.