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Emerging Brands

Topgolf debuts its small-footprint concept

Lounge by Topgolf, which recently opened in a Seattle suburb, might allow the eatertainment chain to expand in urban markets.
Photograph courtesy of Top Golf

Eatertainment chain Topgolf—known for its multiacre golf-centric locations—has opened the first of its smaller-sized lounge concepts, with a new focus on elevated food and drink along with virtual golf and other tech-enabled games.

Lounge by Topgolf, a 9,200-square-foot indoor-outdoor space opened earlier this month in Kirkland, Wash., is designed for “demographically dense areas,” Hun Kim, the restaurant’s general manager, said.

“We wanted to change the way you think about Topgolf,” Kim said. “We wanted to create a more intimate-style restaurant setting.”

To that end, Lounge by Topgolf features a menu with locally sourced ingredients including Brown Butter Miso Salmon and Heirloom Tomato Burrata. The bar serves a well-curated cocktail list along with craft beers and wines. Traditional Topgolf menus lean more toward burgers, sliders and flatbreads.

“The food is more elevated,” Kim said. “It’s more of an elevated dining experience.”

The space features four semiprivate Swing Suites for virtual gaming and one VIP Swing Suite. Once inside, guests can play virtual golf on 84 different courses. Or they can select from a variety of other games, including baseball, football, hockey and Zombie Dodgeball.

The Lounge attracts three types of guests, Kim said: those who solely want to play games, those who want to play while dining and those who want to eat in the dining room while enjoying a view into the Swing Suites.

The Lounge by Topgolf seats about 225, with a horseshoe-shaped bar area with about a dozen seats.

After 9 p.m., the restaurant prohibits anyone under 21. Before that hour, though, the space has been attracting a number of families, Kim said.

“The spectrum is so wide,” he said. “Some people want to play 18 holes of golf. Some people just want to come in with the family. It just depends on what time constraints you have.”

Another focus for the new concept is private parties, with the option to buy out the entire restaurant or just a single suite.

Dallas-based Topgolf, which operates about 50 U.S. locations, has no immediate plans to open another Lounge, Kim said, but Topgolf executives have previously called the concept “the next evolution of our venue business.”

Given the high cost of real estate coupled with rising labor costs, eatertainment chains are testing small-footprint concepts to bolster their brands. Dave & Buster’s has tried units about half the size of typical locations. And Punch Bowl Social is experimenting with a variety of different unit types and sizes.

For Topgolf, Kim said, “We’re not afraid to use technology to really reach markets where space is a factor.”


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