When Revolutions Bowling, Bar & Grille pops its cork between this weekend and next as part of the Penn Treaty complex that holds Live Nation's Fillmore and the Punchline comedy club, the new hot spot will offer more than eating, drinking and knocking down pins. Its ownership, the Frank Entertainment Cos., has been around for 110 years and got its start in Philadelphia, first building movie theaters for silent films before going into the arcade and gaming biz. Before moving their headquarters to Florida, CEO Bruce Frank and CFO Rob Reynolds were Philly/Jersey guys who had decent bowling scores when they were kids. We chat about the history of their business in Philly and what inspired them to launch Revolutions.
Your family had several of the first movie theaters on Market Street in Philly. They also expanded into bowling and arcade games. How was that for you as a kid? And were you much of a bowler?
We lived back-and-forth between Philly's Rittenhouse area and the Jersey Shore. I did [bowling] a lot then, I was even in a league. I was OK. If I broke 100, it was a good day. Verona Lanes was where I bowled in Margate. Atlantic City had Boardwalk Bowl. My grandfather owned the Surf Theater Building — the largest arcade down the shore. I used to live at that place. He brought in one of the first indoor carousels in the country — so tall that he had to take the roof off the place and heightened it by building a glass dome. That had to have been one of the first skylights around.
You stayed in the movie theater business here and in Jersey — what's rough about maintaining that biz with the advent of home theaters and peoples stealing films from the internet? How do you combat that?
No challenge really. If people wanted to stay home, TV diners would be more popular. People want to be out and socialize; interact with bigger screens, be in places they can recline and relax, have a meal or a beer while they watch a film on large scale, state of the art equipment. I know people like to say they can watch James Cameron's newest film on a 100 inch screen. We have 100 foot screens — this is how blockbusters were meant to be seen. We're looking to build an all-recliner, dine-in cinema here coming at the top of the year.
So what makes bowling and nightclubbing a good combination?
It’s a real family place first off, ages 5, 15, 50 can dine, play or watch games, listen to music — recreate all under one roof. Whatever it is that you want to do to be entertained, you can probably do it here. We're providing interactive activity — family activity — yet, you can have all the excitement of being in a nightclub. Honestly, I think this is the modern day family nightclub where adults can dance and drink while the kids play games.
I know along with bowling, you're offering a flair bar with bartenders flipping glasses — what attracted you to that?
People who remember the Tom Cruise film "Cocktail" will recall that, but that happens to be huge in Vegas now. It's practically an Olympic sport. We were at Harrah's in Vegas — the Carousel bar — watching the reaction of the crowd. People were screaming, filming it, putting it up on YouTube. People flip out for it — no pun intended.
How do you think Revolutions plays well or works as part of a complex with live music and live comedy?
It binds it all together. When people come for a concert, where can they go to wind down — or wind up — listen to music and eat. We're the preparty. We're the after-party. We can even be a baby sitter. Maybe your kids don’t get Hall & Oates playing at the Fillmore or don't think the comic you're seeing is funny? Park the kids at Revolutions.