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Emerging Brands

Topgolf’s founders tee up a new concept for U.S. expansion

Puttshack’s growth plans have been slowed by the pandemic, but an Atlanta location is slated to open this spring.

It’s a daunting time to be launching an eatertainment chain.

But the team behind indoor mini-golf concept Puttshack, which opened its first London location two years ago, said it is ready for U.S. expansion despite the pandemic and plans to open one of its high-tech food-and-games operations in Atlanta this spring.

Puttshack was created by the twin brothers who founded Topgolf, a concept that operates large-footprint units with bays where customers can hit tech-enabled golf balls. Players can order food and drink in their bays.

Puttshack’s CEO Joe Vrankin was the head of Topgolf from 2007 to 2012.

“What we’re finding from the sites we have open in London is the guest response has been really strong,” Vrankin said. “We have the capacity to do it because it’s all tech-driven. We can space people apart by design. You can order at the table versus having a server come. By design, you’re creating safety protocols.”

About 40% to 50% of Puttshack’s revenue comes from its mini-golf games, a higher percentage than others in the eatertainment segment, he said.

“Your margins are higher on the game side,” he said.

Construction has begun on Puttshack’s Atlanta location in a large-scale mixed-use development. The brand is expected to open units in Chicago and Miami later next year.

Atlanta’s Puttshack will be about 25,000 square feet with four mini-golf courses, an indoor-outdoor rooftop patio, full bar and high-end menu.

Puttshack was slated to open in a mall in suburban Chicago late this year.

“We’re fortunate we hadn’t yet opened anything in the states with the pandemic hit,” Vrankin said. “We’re uniquely positioned in that we’re gaining insight from what we’re seeing at locations in London. We’re taking that as we move forward in the U.S.”

The concept’s food-and-beverage menu is focused on shareables and signature drinks, he said.

Recent struggles in the eatertainment segment might provide room for growth for Puttshack, he said.

“Some will not come back because they weren’t strong,” he said. “That’s created this window of opportunity for a company like Puttshack. The real estate opportunity is a once-in-a-multiple-decade opportunity, from a tenant standpoint. I somewhat feel guilty being as bullish and as optimistic as I am. I know others in our comp set have some challenges.”



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