So instead of dining rooms, Kenekt created “Cabanas.” There will 10–16 of these in each location, complete with seating and small tables for four to 25 guests, much like VIP areas at a nightclub. They’re modular and allow for games to be brought directly to customers. Rossmeisl likens it to cabanas at a beach where people set up a base of sorts. They explore their surroundings and return when they need to, or just hang as long as they like and take in the scenery. “These are obviously [places people can reserve] and full service,” he says. “And something that we really believe through design is going to be a game-changer.”
“The entire design of the cabanas is built for people to move around and to network together, and not for it to feel like I’m pushing a couple of tables together for a big group that’s waiting to bowl or play games or play pool,” Rossmeisl adds. Guests will get a food, drink, and gaming menu, and have a server who works directly with them. They’ll also be able to push a button and have games brought over.
Given the older audience Kenekt aims for, naturally, its beverage program was core and central to presenting a more upscale DNA. One thing in particular that’s going to differentiate the brand, Rossmeisl says, is a focus on CBD and cannabis-infused options. “And safely bringing to market what was once taboo but is going to become, I believe, as we start to see the laws change, very commonplace,” he says. “We believe we have an environment and vibe that will lend itself perfectly to the cannabis CBD experience, which we want to introduce and really be among one of the first places in this field that’s going to be introducing this safely.”
Within a few years, Rossmeisl imagines it will be “as common as ordering a Tito’s and Soda at the bar.” Kenekt is working with a few industry experts on mainstreaming options in an approachable way.
During the day, Rossmeisl says Kenekt will have the capacity to serve as a co-working space. “We’ll be able to create the vibe and have the complimentary items, from coffee items to great WiFi to a really cool atmosphere to a music program that allow people to work together creatively,” he says. “The Starbucks of the world, I think, are getting to the point where they’re at capacity at a regular basis. People are looking for places to get together and be creative. And this is something that is really part of our program and something that we are going to be offering as an amenity in our facility that allows us to fill our facility during off-peak times strategically.”
A built-in café will feature nitro cold brew on tap, matcha infused drinks, and even CBD-infused coffee.
With the entertainment itself, Rossmeisl sees demand for “low-tech” games after COVID. A resurgence of “analog” options that promote genuine human interaction. Picture Jenga, for instance. There will also be bowling lanes and private bowling suites, billiards, shuffleboard, and table tennis, along with dozens of retro, interactive arcade games and head-to-head options such as “Pop-a-Shot.”
“Most of our games are curated toward an older adult. If you can’t play a game with a beer in your hand or after you’ve had a couple of beers I don’t even put it on the list,” Rossmeisl says.
“Some of my competitors like to fancy themselves a restaurant first,” he continues. “I don’t think there’s a single human being that’s going into a Punch Bowl Social, for example, to dine first. They’re going there for the activities. I believe the food should be fantastic. It should be the icing on the cake. It should be complementary. But we realized that the activities and the entertainment are really what the guest is looking for.”
Technology is going to play a critical role in Kenekt's development. Firstly, there will be a recurring membership program designed to open access to members who want to use the brand's amenities on demand. It will include an exclusive booking platform for members to reserve space.
Rossmeisl says this will unlock corporate and social events and really move past the nickel and diming of some other setups. Kenekt will charge a “low monthly price” and believes it can get to 10,000 memberships per location. It could help counter low-frequency challenges often seen in the eatertainment space, too.
Additionally, the company created a trademarked “Kenektions” platform that uses proprietary software to match members’ gaming, food, and beverage interests, along with personality traits and preferences. Once connected, members can chat, optimize schedules, and secure a reservation with one click, “making for a uniquely seamless meetup experience that marries the traditional digital world with the analog,” the company says.
It could help members network professionally, socially, and find groups with similar interests, and even connect romantically.
“We think that is going to be a key differentiator and something that’s going to drive a lot of connections in our business,” Rossmeisl says.
Ke’nekt’s app also allows users to fill out a “Bucket list,” which tracks priorities and automatically queues waitlists in response.
“We think the one-size-fits-all experience at these experiential dining places is sort of a mistake,” Rossmeisl says. “Meaning on peak days everybody gets corralled through the same experience and they assume everyone is coming in for the bowling. What [the Bucket List] does is allow people to explore different gaming options right at their fingertips and to prioritize with their Ke’nekter [server] what they want their experience to be.”
What it offers Ke’nekt, Rossmeisl adds, is a non-invasive way to predict what people’s goals are before they even come in. The Bucket List customizes experience and allows people to maximize time.
Basically, guests can avoid the stress of trying to figure out what they can do and what’s available, which is often a pain point in busy boxes like eatertainment. They’ll be able to plan out and see what’s free without asking anybody. It gives them responses and information curated toward their visit.