Curt Skallerup is in startup mode again after successfully founding Altitude Trampoline Parks, helping scale it to more than 90 locations, and selling the business to a private equity fund in 2018. Like Altitude, Skallerup will remain in the family entertainment sector and use franchising as a growth tool. But this time, “eatertainment” will be more of a focus, as well as “competitive socializing.”
Enter Larks Entertainment, what is soon to be an umbrella company for at least six eatertainment concepts: Larks Shuffleboard Club, Larks Putt Club, Larkade, Obstacle Adventures, Blast Legends, and Larks Kitchen and Bar. With an overarching aim to bring nostalgic games back into popularity, Larks’ concepts can function individually or together and will be “franchising in a box,” according to Skallerup, who is bringing his core executive team to Larks.
Locations are already in the works in Kansas City, Missouri; San Antonio; San Diego; and St. Petersburg, Florida. Skallerup is also eyeing Nashville, Tennessee, and Dallas as his next target markets.
In a Q&A with FSR, Skallerup offers up some insight as to why—and how—Larks will be the next big thing in eatertainment franchising.
What’s your perspective on the “Eatertainment” segment as a whole today?
We believe that the Eatertainment segment is the most exciting growth segment in the family entertainment center market today. Combining a fun, high-energy environment with an activity and good food is an underdeveloped segment in many cities and towns across the U.S.
Where will Larks be positioned within that segment? How will it stand out, both from a consumer perspective and from a franchise opportunity standpoint?
Larks plans to take a leadership position in the segment with affordable prices that all families can enjoy. All of our available attractions will be low skill, which will allow every family member to participate in them regardless of age or skill level.
We will stand out as a franchise opportunity because we offer a dynamic franchise model, that means we are flexible on what attractions go into each individual Larks. Larks will also be one of the only brands that will be franchising in the eatertainment segment in the U.S. We want our franchisees’ to bring a Larks that is customized to their market, available real estate, and existing competition in order to optimize their success.
What kind of food will Larks brands feature on menus? Can you give some examples, and what the price points will be?
Larks offers fast casual comfort food, with a variety of shareables, handhelds, and a focus on elevated quesadillas. The Larks team has been developing a series of gourmet quesadilla recipes that will be our specialty. We also offer a full beer, wine and cocktail menu with specialty shared cocktail pitchers. Our price point will range from $6-$14, varied slightly by market.
Do you have any data to showcase the brand’s growth potential?
We believe Larks has unlimited growth potential. This is our third franchise concept, so we are looking to have quick growth that mirrors our previous. We currently have three franchisee locations in development and two corporate owned. Our plan is to have an additional five in development by Q2 and a total of four open by the end of the year. Long term, our goal is to have 200-plus locations in five years. We are in discussion with franchise partners interested in area development agreements.
Can you give an update on your development pipeline?
We currently have 400 leads in our CRS and 60 prospects we’re actively working with through the sales process and real estate. We have a very experienced VP of Sales who will be leading the team on these aggressive development goals.
Why is Larks’ model optimized for growth?
Larks Entertainment is optimized for growth through the dynamic franchise model, which allows Larks to adapt and go into many more markets, and real estate, than a traditional entertainment franchise. The flexibility of the dynamic franchise model also provides a wide range of investment levels and opens up the availability to own a Larks to people at all financial levels. Unlike my previous franchise concept, Larks has the ability to go into more towns with varied demographics that will stimulate growth very quickly.
How are you attracting prospective owners?
We are connecting with franchise prospects through franchise networks, franchise shows, past relationships, and social media.
What sets Larks apart from competitors?
The two aspects of Larks Entertainment that sets us apart in the franchise market are Larks Dynamic Franchise model and our team of industry veterans. The dynamic franchise model allows for almost unlimited opportunities to open and operate a Larks, from the flexibility of the market to the customized attractions within the space. The Larks team has five internal team members with extensive backgrounds working in franchising. We have all built franchise organizations and plan to use that experience and knowledge to expedite Larks’ growth and build a vast support system for our franchise partners.
What is the cost of investment?