Huge ‘eatertainment’ complex Punch Bowl Social debuts in East Village

Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social, one of the hottest restaurants in the fast-growing, millennial-focused “eatertainment” industry, will open its doors Saturday night in East Village’s Makers Quarter district.

The 23,500-square-foot two-tiered complex — built inside a long-abandoned boxing gym at 1485 E St. — combines a made-from-scratch restaurant and three bars with eight bowling lanes, karaoke rooms, vintage arcade games, 8-man foosball, bocce, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong, darts and table games.

How big is it? Its kitchen is capable of feeding 1,000 people at a time and its compartmentalized design allows the venue to host up to eight private events at one time.

Launched in Denver in 2012 by hospitality veteran Robert Thompson, Punch Bowl Social stands at the forefront of the all-under-one-roof “eatertainment” trend, which began heating up around 2011.

Thompson was named a 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and Punch Bowl’s honors include being named among Fast Company Magazine’s 2018 Most Innovative Companies in the World, Inc. 5000’s fastest-growing companies in America in 2017 and Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2017 Next 20 Brands to Watch.

The San Diego venue is Punch Bowl’s 14th location, and the fifth to open in the past five months. Nine more are planned. The fast growth has been fueled, in part, by an undisclosed investment last summer by the private equity firm L Catterson Growth Fund.

Punch Bowl’s chief competitors in the eatertainment industry are Lucky Strike and Dave & Busters. All three balance their business between walk-in customers and corporate/special event bookings.

What makes Punch Bowl stand out, and have a 20 percent higher walk-in customer ratio, is its scratch kitchen menu developed by culinary partner Hugh Acheson, a two-time James Beard Award-winning chef and frequent “Top Chef” TV judge.

Thompson said he brought in Acheson two years ago because he didn’t feel the company got enough credit for its quality standards, which include serving sustainably raised, humane-certified meats, locally sourced ingredients and all food made in-house.

“I wanted to find a way to send a big signal to put a spotlight on our culinary standpoint,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Acheson are in San Diego this week for the local launch and say that San Diego is an especially important element of the company’s culinary future.

San Diego diners will be the first to sample Acheson’s newly dubbed “Mex-Tex” modern Mexican menu, which replaces…

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Reprinted via San Diego Union Tribune
Photo Credit: Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union Tribune