Punch Bowl Social founder Robert Thompson has secured over $200 million to feed his up-and-coming eatertainment babies. He attracted investments from prestigious names in the restaurant industry like Bill Allen—co-founder of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and former CEO of Bloomin’ Brands—and Stephen King, who served as CEO of eatertainment chain Dave & Buster’s for over a decade.
He’ll use the influx of cash to develop his newest concepts under parent company Angevin & Co.—Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera, both of which he began working on in 2021. “Fundraising began in earnest in 2022 before the capital markets began getting choppy,” he says. ”The market ‘chop’ caused delays for us getting across the finish line, and for some other groups in the eatertainment space, it tanked their deals altogether.”
Fortunately, Thompson and his team have nearly 30 years of experience developing, operating, and growing eatertainment brands that kept them afloat. That track record alone “made our deal less risky and helped our 2022 conversations ‘make’ in the summer of 2023,” he explains.
“The recent undisclosed amount of capital that the company has taken in at both parent company equity capital and unit level equity capital from the group of investors (The Simon Property Group, Good Alpha, Align Ventures, and personal investors including restaurant industry veterans Bill Allen and Stephen King), has unlocked related developer and in-kind capital, and when combined, Camp Pickle was able to realize $200 million of total growth CapEx proceeds,” Thompson adds. “So more than a raise, it’s more accurate to say that the recent investments have unlocked a total of $200 million for growth.”
Camp Pickle is his upcoming pickleball and dining venue that will span 40,000 to 65,000 square feet of indoor space and 10,000 to 25,000 square feet of outdoor space, including 10 to 15 pickleball courts in each location. The concept will appeal to a broad age range and aims to be family-focused.
“Camp Pickle—and pickleball in general—has the widest consumer demographic net that I have ever been associated with,” he says. “With participation ranges from 10 years to 70 years old, and an average player age of 35, pickleball appeals to a wide of consumers.”
As far as what will differentiate the brand from emerging competitors in the space, Thompson highlights how most pickleball models coming into the market are paddles clubs, not eatertainment concepts.
“I’ve operated the same eatertainment model for multiple decades that relies on using our activities (like pickleball, bowling, karaoke, and darts) to drive F&B sales,” he adds. “Using a model that has proven itself successful across decades and changing consumer patterns makes Camp Pickle—with its extremely wide consumer net—the most enticing and exciting business that I have ever had the privilege to launch.”
“We exercise the modern eatertainment model in a way that, we believe, no other concept creators or operators are able to do,” Thompson says. “Our overall design aesthetic and experience is unique and most importantly, it resonates with consumers. Our platform with both Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera has greater white space due to our ability to drop the right brand into the right real estate opportunities.”
With respect to Jaguar Bolera (“bolera” translates from Spanish to bowling alley), the concept will combine social activities like duckpin bowling, karaoke, and darts with an inventive bar program and craveable dishes.
Thompson says he and his team took all the lessons learned over multiple decades, applied a similar urban real estate profile (versus the more suburban Camp Pickle real estate profile), created an improved and more profitable service model, and “overlayed the most novel culinary approach in our history.” This adds up to outsized potential success for the brand’s growth.
“Both Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera sit on our eatertainment operating platform with common ownership and zero duplicate G&A (general and administrative expenses),” he notes. “It’s an efficient approach on the corporate support backside, and interesting, unique brands that speak to modern consumers—and landlords.”
In March, Angevin & Co. named Chef Manuel (Manny) Barella to serve as culinary director for both brands, FSR previously reported. Barella, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, brings a passion for Hispanic cuisine and was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2022. The menu at both concepts will feature smoked proteins. Camp Pickle will bring together elements of Mexican and camp cooking, while Jaguar Bolera will combine Mexican and Southern influences.
Thompson will begin rolling out the two concepts starting in 2024, with Jaguar Bolera first opening in Raleigh, North Carolina, followed by the first Camp Pickle in Colorado in the fall of 2024. Deals are underway in Indianapolis; New Orleans; Nashville, Tennessee; and Austin, Texas.
- Raleigh, North Carolina—spring 2024
- Atlanta—fall 2024
- Centennial, Colorado—fall 2024
- Denver (Fox Park)—2025
- Tulsa, Oklahoma—Q2 2025
- Dallas—late 2025
- Huntsville, Alabama—TBD
- Charlotte, North Carolina—TBD
“The senior team is assembled with great enthusiasm and excitement to open and operate these large eatertainment concepts once again,” he says. “Most everyone is in the Denver area again (including Thompson, who relocated back to Denver from New Orleans) and we are setting up shop.”
“The passion of our core leadership team, many of whom were part of the Punch Bowl Social leadership team, has never wavered,” Thompson adds. “Covid could not break it. We felt that the pandemic cut our mission short, and every single one of us wakes up with the intent to drive this platform and these brands relentlessly across the finish line—wherever that may be.”