If you make delicious products, people will follow. Or so goes the philosophy at Pinewood Social, which, at 13,000 square feet, has room to host plenty of them—somewhere in the ballpark of 200.
Part coffee shop, restaurant, bowling alley, swimming pool and bar, Pinewood Social caters to a bevy of customer interests, but it’s first and foremost a cocktail spot, says Beverage Director Matt Tocco, with booze comprising about 50% of the concept’s total sales.
The brainchild of Southern Hospitality—the group behind Nashville’s cocktail-focused The Patterson House—Pinewood Social has more of a coffee shop vibe during the day, full of workers on laptops and young moms with kids. Yet guests often stay all day, transitioning their morning coffee into lunch, afternoon bowling and evening dinner or drinks, Tocco says.
On Friday mornings, business ramps up right out of the gate, thanks to an influx of luggage-toting customers killing time before outbound flights or check-in time at area hotels. With Nashville now a top bachelorette party destination, Pinewood Social sees a lot of weekend warrior types, many of whom come in seeking 20- and 30-tops, Tocco says, presenting a challenge during already peak times.
Expectation setting is a key part of ensuring operations run smoothly during those dayparts; hosts let guests know that they’re visiting during a busy period and items might take longer to prepare. “What we do [behind the bar] is kind of laborious,” Tocco says, noting that while the bar combines cocktail touches to hasten throughput, prep can still be a bit time consuming.
During warmer months, the outdoor pool area, served by an Airstream trailer turned bar, reduces indoor congestion. Outside, up to 150 guests can access a simplified drink menu, necessitated by the trailer’s small footprint and the fact that items must be prepared and served in plastic for safety reasons.
Customers aren’t required to cash out before moving from the bar to the bowling alley, for example, and servers transfer tabs from one space to the next. Yet, that outward seamlessness isn’t always easy, notes Tocco. “As you create more moving parts, you’re always going to have more difficulties.”
In spite of the challenges operating such a multifaceted concept can present, the place itself is in many ways its own marketing tool. Happy hours and other specials aren’t currently part of Pinewood Social’s promotional strategy, Tocco says, noting that “it’s such a unique space that people want to see it.”
Photo Credit: Andrew Thomas Lee