Editorial note: This article is part of an ongoing franchise series, which highlights brands that are new to or aggressively expanding via franchising. Is your restaurant starting to franchise? Email us at [email protected]
When Michael Siniscalchi, CEO of 810 Billiards & Bowling, encountered a run down bowling center on a trip to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2014, he started to dream up a business opportunity. Bowling concepts were popular in metro areas like Chicago and New York at the time, but they weren’t surviving in smaller markets. League bowlers were aging out, and millennial customers weren’t willing to make a 38-week league bowling commitment, and weren’t interested in nachos and cheap beer, he said. This demographic craves a full-service, multifaceted experience, he said.
Siniscalchi bought the Myrtle Beach property and moved to the coastal community in late 2014. His team gutted the center and converted it to a mixed-use, upscale bowling concept in 2015 — 810 Billiards & Bowling’s first location. The facility allowed customers to float back and forth within the 30,000-square-foot space to easily access bowling, billiards, bocce ball, and an arcade, as well as a dining area and bar. Siniscalchi’s team worked with a third-party vendor to create a mobile technology system that led with food and beverage point-of-sale ordering, but also incorporated gaming. Customers can order and pay for food and access games from their mobile devices, and servers can also place orders and take payments in parallel, he said. The company also has incorporated online ordering.
About 18 months later, Siniscalchi and his team opened the second and third, 810 Billiards locations in the market. Once they launched the third location and were confident in their proof of concept, the company started to explore franchising, but the COVID-19 pandemic put these plans on hold.
While indoor entertainment was stalled by COVID-19, however, 810 Billiards bought three additional units in 2020 and 2021. At the beginning of 2022, it had six corporate locations, Siniscalchi said, expanding beyond South Carolina and into Houston, Phoenix and Chandler, Arizona. The company has since relaunched its franchising efforts and has a franchised unit set to open in November in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Another franchised location is under construction in Greenville, South Carolina. 810 Billiards has an additional seven franchise agreements in place throughout the country, including in the Greater Houston market; Dallas-Fort Worth; Tampa, Florida; New Jersey; Sacramento, California; and Nashville, Tennessee, he said.
810 Billiards hired a sales team in January, which franchisees can leverage for sales and booking of events, he said. To reduce development costs for operators, the company has an exclusive, private label pricing agreement with an international manufacturer that provides furniture, gaming and bowling equipment at a lower cost, Siniscalchi said.
Development plans: While 810 Billiards will consider multi-unit franchise deals, it’s currently pursuing single-unit deals with the exception of Texas, where it already has a multi-unit deal, Siniscalchi said. The company’s goal is to bring eight to 12 units under agreement annually over the next two to three years, he said. 810 Billiards is involved in finding appropriate locations from finding a broker to leasing negotiations.
Ideal franchisees: Operational experience in hospitality or food and beverage is a plus, but not required. 810 Billiards is prioritizing franchisees that have a shared value structure around putting their people first. Knowledge of profit center management and P&L intelligence is also key, Siniscalchi said. The company, which will teach inexperienced franchisees how to operate locations, expects operators to hire a full management team that has restaurant and hospitality experience as well.
Franchise quick facts
- Minimum net worth: $2 million
- Liquid investable assets: $400,000 to $500,000
- Typical project cost: $3 million
- Royalty fee: 5%