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.