How Jaguar Bolera creator Robert Thompson is trading on joy

As the first location of the eatertainment concept prepares to open this week, this veteran of the segment is looking to grow his multi-brand portfolio under the umbrella Joy Trade. He's on the hunt for acquisitions.
The first location of Jaguar Bolera is scheduled to open May 19 in Raleigh, N.C. A second is coming to Atlanta. |Photo courtesy of Joy Trade.

In the increasingly crowded world of eatertainment, Robert Thompson is building what he hopes will be a multibrand powerhouse under the name Joy Trade.

Thompson is the creator of two upcoming eatertainment brands: Jaguar Bolera, a bowling/darts/games venue opening May 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Camp Pickle, a pickleball themed complex, scheduled to open first in Denver next year. By the end of 2025, Joy Trade expects to have two units of each brand open for a total of four.

And Thompson is planning to add more brands to the platform, both by building them and buying them.

“Because we’ve been developing and operating eatertainment brands for so long, we have the personnel that understands how to integrate and operate other brands, so we can very efficiently put them on the platform,” said Thompson in an interview at the Restaurant Leadership Conference last month.

Thompson founded and sold the Punch Bowl Social concept, and toyed with leaving the eatertainment space before he had “a Godfather moment” and was pulled back in with the launch of Jaguar Bolera. A second location is scheduled to open later this year in Atlanta.

Joy Trade is one of a growing number of restaurant companies following a platform model, which allows for shared infrastructure and cross-brand efficiencies.  Thompson said he is looking for both nascent brands that could benefit from Joy Trade’s expertise, and potentially for more-established eatertainment concepts with 10 to 15 locations.

Listen to how Thompson explains what he is building with Joy Trade.

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