At StrikeCity, it's hip to be spare

Bowling's only part of the fun at new uptown spot.

01/30/2009 12:00 AM

01/29/2009 3:15 PM

StrikeCity – the new bowling alley, restaurant and bar – officially opens today in the EpiCentre, adding the final piece of the entertainment puzzle to the uptown complex. But whereas other bowling alleys focus on knocking down the 10 pins, StrikeCity is above all a bar where you can get authentic Italian food, watch the game on a giant wall of TVs, dance with your friends – and, oh yeah, there's the bowling, too.

The Scene: “This isn't your father's bowling alley,” operating partner James White says. And indeed, it's not. Instead of the plastic chairs, fluorescent lighting and grimy linoleum floors of yesteryear, bowlers can wait their turns on high-backed leather banquets and cushy barstools on gleaming hardwood floors, all lighted by chandeliers and track lighting.

Thom Perez of Full House Productions calls it “next-generation” bowling. “It's the most high-tech, state-of-the-art experience you can have in a bowling alley.”

Giant 12-foot screens mark the end of each of the 18 lanes (12 in the main room, plus an additional six in two private rooms). Ladies, want to watch the latest episode of “The Real Housewives”? Not a problem. Guys, itching to catch the big game? They can do that, too. Sports will be a major focus thanks to the 75 flat-panel TVs located throughout the 25,000-square-foot space.

But when you're waiting your turn to bowl, there are plenty of other distractions. The large dining area offers a full menu from Libretto's Pizzeria next door. The Manhattan pizza parlor is a fixture in New York City, and StrikeCity managers are banking that Charlotte customers will gobble up Italian favorites like baked ziti, chicken marsala and eggplant parmesan. And for those who want a traditional bowling alley experience, burgers and hot dogs are also on the menu. (Entrees range from $7.50 to $13.95.)

There are two bars in the main room and a private bar in the Queen City room. Twelve beers are on tap, but this isn't the kind of place where you can get pitchers for your bowling team – it's a little too upscale for that.

On weekends, managers plan to move out dining tables to clear room for the dance floor and a game room has old-school arcades and pool tables for added fun.

The Music: A little on the retro side during the daylight hours (I heard everything from The Cure to “Mony Mony,” “Do You Believe in Magic?” and “A Horse With No Name”) before mixing in some Top 40 pop Thursday-Saturday nights.

The Crowd: White tells me StrikeCity will be a place where you can have a birthday party for 8-year-olds during the day and party the night away with adult friends later. The venue is smoke-free until 10 p.m. seven days a week to accommodate families, White says. After 9 p.m., the venue turns 21 and up.

The Details: 210 E. Trade St. (bottom floor in the EpiCentre, under Mez/EpiCentre Theaters). 704-716-9300. www.strikecity

For details on how to enter to win tickets to tonight's grand-opening party, see Page 2.

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