From video games to virtual reality — there’s a whole generation that could use some real, human interaction.
At least that’s what Robert Thompson, founder and CEO of Punch Bowl Social, thought in 2012, when he launched his new “eater-tainment” concept in his hometown of Denver.
Today, Punch Bowl Social — which was named one of the Hottest Concepts of 2018 — has 18 locations and counting. No. 19 opens Saturday, Sept. 21, in Salt Lake City.
For Utahns who have never been to or heard of Punch Bowl Social, here’s everything you need to know:
What is it? • It pairs food and cocktails with all sorts of modern and retro games. The name was inspired by the Victorian social tradition of gathering around a bowl of punch.
Where is it? • The Salt Lake City location is at the north end of The Gateway development, 6 N. Rio Grande, in the old Barnes and Noble store. Open Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to midnight. Lunch is Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. beginning Oct. 14.
What kind of games can I play? • There are eight mini bowling lanes, six dartboards, a photo booth, classic arcade games, pingpong, board games and a private karaoke room.
What can I eat ? • Open for lunch, dinner, late-night bites and weekend brunch, the menu includes shareable plates, hamburgers and tacos, priced from $8 to $18.50. Things to try: “A Pig, A Duck, and Some Cheese Walk Into A Bar” or the cocoa-dusted carnitas tacos.
What if I don’t drink alcohol? • Punch Bowl has milkshakes, sodas, juices and other beverages that are alcohol-free for $4 to $12. (The Gateway is on the TRAX line, so everyone can get home safely.)
It sounds a lot like Dave & Buster’s — also at The Gateway • It is. With one difference — Punch Bowl Social is a bar and you have to be 21 or older to get in. Guests will be able to carry their alcoholic beverages from their tables to the gaming areas. That’s not allowed in Utah restaurants, like Dave & Buster’s, where people must be seated and order food with alcohol.
When does it open? • The grand opening party for the Salt Lake City location is Saturday, Sept. 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include all food, games and a special beverage menu. Purchase them at https://nightout.com/events/punch-bowl-social-slc-grand-opening/tickets. All proceeds benefit Encircle, an LGBTQ support center.
What if I don’t want to buy a ticket? • Punch Bowl Social will open to the public Saturday at 10 p.m. There is no cover charge.
How big is it? • Punch Bowl’s Salt Lake City site is 15,000 square feet, compared with the usual 25,000 square feet. The company developed the compact design to make it financially feasible to open in retail, shopping and dining developments in smaller U.S. cities.
How is it uniquely Utah? • It features custom skier art — a nod to 2002 Winter Olympics that Salt Lake City hosted. There also are Greek influences highlighting the original Olympians, including a lightning bolt fixture over the host stand and cosmic tabletop designs reflecting the ancient Greek solar systems. There is a 360-degree bar and an 800-square-foot patio, too.
Are there other bars at The Gateway? • Punch Bowl Social is the The Gateway’s third bar, behind Bout Time Pub and Grub, on the south end of the property, and Seabird Bar and Vinyl Room, on the second level overlooking the Olympic Fountain. Wiseguys Comedy Club, The Depot music venue, Clark Planetarium, Megaplex Theatres and Vivint Smart Home Arena — home to the NBA’s Utah Jazz — also are nearby.