By Grace Huseth
The Painted Pin feels like a millionaire’s game room in the heart of Buckhead’s Miami Circle. The “modern English” décor turned an industrial warehouse space into a classic gaming and bowling destination. Length-wise, The Painted Pin is all bowling alley, but the depth of the venue features a large bar, lounging couches and coffee tables with interactive games tucked in corners and hidden in extra rooms.
Owner Justin Amick and his business partner William Stallworth were looking for alternative forms of entertainment that would resonate with the 25 to 45-year-old demographic. Amick applied his expertise in the food and beverage business while Stallworth used his experience in sales to create the successful boutique bar.
“This is our dream bar. We both love competitive games, bowling and activities you can do with your friends, family and co-workers,” Amick said. “The culmination of our backgrounds was pointing us to the need and niche of The Painted Pin.”
On a bustling Friday night, The Painted Pin did seem like a millennial’s playground yet the focus on games rescues the spot from the cliché bar feel. Along with the bowling, there’s bocce, giant Jenga, Skee Ball, shuffleboard, darts and a room devoted to ping pong are incredibly popular. Later in the evening, a band started playing, but there were more victory dances than club dancing.
Bowling is still the focal point of the boutique bar. Twenty lanes have theatrical red curtains and a trademark Painted Pin twist. Each lane has ten pins, one of which is painted red. This red pin is naturally shuffled with a new placement with each restack. Whenever the red pin becomes the king pin, or is moved to the front, the pressure is on. If you get a strike, you are awarded with a Painted Pin Strike and a celebratory free beer.
Securing a bowling lane can be tricky. Amick said the average wait time to get a lane is two to three hours on the weekdays and can get as high as six to eight hours on the weekends. The best strategy is to have one person from your group put your name on the list, stay in the building and play games as the wait time gets shorter.
In the meantime, appetizers and meals at The Painted Pin are a nod to Amick’s roots in the food world. Greasy bowling alley food has been replaced with upscale pub food including wood fired pizzas, tacos, sliders and small plates. Craft and local beer in addition to classic cocktails and wines by the glass make bowling more art than sport.
Amick used his expertise in wine when creating The Painted Pin. Prior to moving to Atlanta, Amick worked in the Napa Valley and served as beverage director for both Parish and the former Midtown restaurant The Spence.
With the success of The Painted Pin, Amick and Stallworth are ready to expand the brand to Atlanta’s Westside. In summer 2017, the owners will open their second location called The Painted Duck, which Amick calls “a distinguished drinkery duck pin bowling and gaming parlor.”
Duck Pin Bowling is the same as bowling, but is played with smaller balls the size of a softball and smaller, fatter pins. The Painted Duck will be the first in the country to focus on the game in the boutique realm and give a somewhat retired game resurgence in popularity. Like The Painted Pin, The Painted Duck will have more classic games paired with recreational backyard bar fare. Executive Chef Thomas Collins is currently developing skewers of wood-fired meats called quills.
“We are the first to bring back this old favorite, historical pastime of bowling but in a boutique realm. It’s everything you love about bowling, but in a different rendition. It’s more of a precision game and is a little bit harder.”
These boutique bars take quite a bit of teamwork. “You are only as good as the team that you have,” Amick said. “I really do think what I did best and what I’m most proud of is the team that I have assembled here at The Painted Pin. They are the ones who bring it to life.”