From Myrtle Beach…
To a Location Near You: 810 Billiards & Bowling Continues Expansion
by Matt Harding
Michael Siniscalchi, owner and founder of 810 Billiards & Bowling, previously spent 10 years in finance, first in Chicago and then New York. “The most important aspect of that part of my life was going to Brooklyn Bowl and places like that,” he said.
In 2014, he and his wife went down to North Myrtle Beach, S.C., to visit his retired parents. “We came across a rundown bowling alley and thought there are really no bowling entertainment concepts outside of New York and Chicago.”
The pair were ready to start a family and move out of New York anyway, so they put in an offer on that traditional center in North Myrtle Beach with the intent of bringing in a new type of facility.
The offer was originally declined, but the owner reconsidered and accepted in August 2014. After six months of wall-to-wall renovations, converting it into a more upscale venue, their new eatertainment concept 810 Billiards & Bowling opened in May 2015.
“I had no background in F&B or bowling,” Siniscalchi recalled. “People often think I’m a good bowler, but that’s far from the truth. It was very much learning everything as we went. But in about 12-18 months, we got to where we had a process and a concept we thought was working well.”
That concept included billiards and bowling, but also an arcade, sports bar, dining room and casual games like cornhole and noncompetitive darts.
By June 2018, they were ready to take 810 down the beach to Market Common, a popular shopping center in Myrtle Beach where they took the place of a vacated supermarket. Today, Market Common is their flagship store, where they have 40,000 sq. ft. of bowling, billiards and games, but also offer live music and an 18-hole mini-golf course.
Meanwhile, they were also doing their first ground-up build in nearby Conway, a smaller boutique location that opened in January 2019.
Soon after, Siniscalchi said they were ready to begin the franchise process. They were marketing franchises toward the end of 2019. When Covid hit, they didn’t slow down – even adding some corporate locations.
“We were able to be pretty dynamic as we were smaller and younger than our competitors,” he said. That allowed them to take over a former bowling entertainment center in downtown Phoenix. They also added locations in Houston and Chandler, Ariz., at the end of 2021.
Franchises due in 2022 include Greenville, S.C., Fort Smith, Ark., Nashville and one in southern New Jersey.
While many similar concepts grow geographically, 810 Billiards & Bowling doesn’t find it all that integral. “We serve upscale American fare and entertainment is universally loved in this country,” Siniscalchi explained. “We’re more focused on finding the right franchise partners.” He added that there’s “nothing regional or local about our offerings or supply chains.”
The company’s average location is in the 20,000-25,000-sq.-ft. ballpark. There are roughly 6-10 pool tables at each location with something like 12-20 bowling lanes and 15-20 arcade games. It depends on whatever they think is justified for the market.
Their first location was a former 32-lane league bowling center. They removed 12 lanes and added an arcade, pool tables, bocce ball and cornhole. The idea was to continue refreshing old traditional centers in that way, but he realized it was unnecessary.
“We don’t do competitive leagues,” he said. “We’re an entertainment concept.” So instead, they’ve simply focused on finding the right locations and the right franchise partners.
From the beginning, it’s all been about creating a smoother customer experience. Part of their full-service experience is having a server dedicated to your group – rather than having a separate bowling operating system and F&B system. “We’ve been able to create something that allows us to make all that seamless,” Siniscalchi said.
The revenue is a “pretty broad mix” between food, bar and entertainment. The sports bars, he said, are huge draws for UFC and other live events. With pizza dough and sauce made in-house, even if you’re not in the mood to play or bowl, the food is a draw.
There’s an arcade at every location except the smaller Conway facility. They focus on experiential games that people can do together like Skee-Ball, basketball games, Jurassic Park and Halo, though the exact lineup varies by location.
He noted that a typical location gets a lot of family business during the day and everybody else at night. The college-age crowd and corporate gatherings are also a part of the demographic.
“We’re a bit of a mix. We appeal to families and children’s birthday parties during the day. A lot of the time, parents say, ‘We want to come back next week for date night.’”
Just shy of their seventh anniversary, 810 Billiards & Bowling has grown to employ 220 people and is already a pillar in their communities.
“We try to participate in local youth activities and sponsor teams in local leagues and things of that nature,” Siniscalchi said. “We want it to be a two-way street in the communities that we’re in.” In their South Carolina locations, they’ve had a relationship with New Directions, an organization that helps get people back on their feet.
Visit www.810bowling.com to undoubtedly see more “coming soon” signs in the months and years to come.