Exec Doug Warner takes us inside Boston-founded Kings, the country’s premier “Eatertainment” concept
With a history going back to 2002, when the first location debuted in Boston’s Back Bay, you would think that Kings had its formula of bowling combined with dining, cocktails and other forms of entertainment all figured out. Not so, according to Doug Warner, Kings’ senior vice president of marketing and business development. “In this world, it requires a constant evolution to stay relevant and exciting to our guests.” Recent updates include the addition of the “1Up Retrocade” concept—think such classic games as Pac Man, Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam—to some locations, as well as pizza tacos, a new menu item that is a mash-up of soft taco-like pizza dough rolled around red sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella and then baked with more cheese on top. As Warner enthuses, “They are insanely delicious!”
Despite its tremendous growth—there are currently 11 locations in five states, with more in the works—Kings is still able to tailor its experience, as Warner states, “to meet the needs of the guests in that community.” Perfect examples are the Whiskey Room Live, the live music venue at Kings’ Tennessee location, and the amazing rum selection in Miami. Boston, being the sports-crazed town that it is, gave rise to the Draft Room at the Seaport location, which boasts 40-plus brews on tap from around the corner and across the globe along with giant LED screens for, as Warner promises, “arena-like sports viewing.” With the start of the football season upon us, Kings even has discounted bowling promotions in place for Sunday, Monday and Thursday night games.
Kings has come a long way, as Warner points out, from its original “luxury bowling” concept. As for his own Kings faves, he admits to not being the best bowler around, instead confessing an affinity for the vintage arcade games. “The nostalgia of winning a Mario Kart race or beating Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really takes me back—and it’s even more fun when you don’t have to beg your mom for more quarters!”