A Tasty & Fun Collaboration
FACE Amusement Group Opens Downtown Flavortown with Guy Fieri
by Matt Harding
Guy Fieri’s Downtown Flavortown opened March 8 at the Mountain Mile Shopping Complex in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and VIP reception was held June 13.
The new facility from the famed chef and TV personality is certainly not his first foray into eateries, but it is his first full-fledged FEC. The concept, brought to life by the owner-operator FACE Amusement Group, may even be coming to a city near you.
“We’re in the process of finding the next location now,” said FACE Amusement Group CEO Bucky Mabe. “We feel like this concept can handle both the tourist market and a local market depending on the demographics.”
The location in Pigeon Forge is a 43,000-sq.-ft. venue with 14 lanes of duckpin bowling, a roughly 10,000-sq.-ft. arcade, a 300-seat restaurant, a full-service “Freaky Tiki” bar, private party options and even a 1968 Chevy Camaro for photos.
“It’s been received really well,” Mabe said. “It’s something definitely unique compared to what people think of a traditional FEC.”
Bucky Mabe is a second-generation operator. His father Clarence started S&M Amusements in the late 1970s and purchased Rockin’ Raceway in 1987, the company’s first FEC. In 2013, Clarence and Bucky, along with Rusty Mabe and Mark Larkey, created FACE Amusement (FACE representing Faith, Attitude, Consistency and Excellence).
Acting upon those core values is their Bear Hugs program. For every stuffed bear plush toy won in a FACE Amusement crane, the company donates another bear to a local charity. To date, they’ve donated nearly 10,000 of them.
Today, FACE’s attractions portfolio includes not only Rockin’ Raceway, but also Arcade City, Big Top Arcade, 7D Dark Ride Adventure, LuLu’s Beach Arcade and Mountain of Youth Ropes Course, The Branson Coaster and The Mirror Maize.
They’ve also grown the hospitality side of their business, which includes other Guy Fieri properties including Branson Kitchen and Bar and Chicken Guy! with locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“We’ve always wanted to do a family entertainment concept that we could scale nationwide,” Mabe explained. “In FECs, the food traditionally had kind of a black eye. People would eat there if they had to. That was what sparked the original idea. They’re coming here for the food and the fun.” Hitting Fieri’s “food, fun and family” niche, the idea was a no-brainer and they inked a deal in 2019 to bring the first location to life.
The arcade has 85 games and is mainly redemption like the company’s Arcade City locations, though they also have virtual reality, pinball and a collection of video games. They even have a Wizard of Oz pusher from Elaut that they’ve rebranded to have Guy Fieri playing cards and other fun prizes for fans. They also have PlayStation 5 consoles.
“There’s a lot of people that are coming in for the food and discovering the fun, which is unique for the FEC market as a whole,” Mabe said.
While food may be driving much of the business in the tourist market, he noted that there have been a lot of repeat visitors as well.
The menu showcases Fieri’s award-winning dishes, craft beers and specialty cocktails. Among the favorites are Trash Can Nachos (featuring house-made pork, cheddar cheese, black beans and much more) and the Bacon Mac ‘N’ Cheeseburger (featuring Applewood bacon, six-cheese macaroni, donkey sauce and much, much more).
On the bar menu, cocktails include the Caliente Margarita, Tattooed Mojito and Guy’s Famous BBQ Bloody Mary.