Game On–A place to bowl, rock out, and dine in on Water Street
“It’s gritty, urban, and authentic,” says Diamond Properties Bill Diamond of the former Lillian August SoNo Annex space on Water Street. “Industrial chic is the feel we are after with all of our venues, and this space has it already.”
With 25-foot, beam-framed ceilings, red-brick and cinder-block walls, and a cement floor, the 32,000-square-foot space will in a year or so be a giant box in which to play, eat, and drink. Diamond, restaurateur Louie Lanza, and brewer Scott Vaccaro are collaborating to create a yet-unnamed place for bowling, bocce, arcade games, virtual-reality, golf simulation, and more experiences in the heart of SoNo. “Right here we will have a stage for live performances, with the area’s best bands,” says Lanza, pointing to a 5,000-square-foot front-to-back stretch of the now totally empty shell.
Diamond owns and operates some 20 venues in Westchester County (and other locations), including Spins Hudson, part of Factoria, along the Hudson River. Lanza operates eateries on his own and in some Diamond properties. And Vaccaro operates Captain Lawrence Brewing Co in Elmsford, NY, plus brew and cider operations with Diamond and Lanza. “I’ve been wanting to open something in Norwalk for long time,” says Diamond. “It’s a really great place for this. We can attract families during the day and a totally different crowd at night,” emphasizing that both young kids and millennials love the arcade experience in entirely different ways.
A similar concept for the space, led by Kurt Cellar and Carl Pombar, got close to the building phase but stopped dead earlier this year. The building’s owner David Adam Realty in Westport approached Diamond about it. When the owner quoted leasing details, Diamond said he prefers to own the buildings where he operates entertainment experiences, and a deal was made to purchase 75 percent of the 97,000-square-foot building, carve out the 32,000 square feet for this venture, and have West Marine, SoNo Baking Co., Casual Cigar, and other tenants remain.
Less than a mile on the other side of town, opening soon in The SoNo Collection, is Pinstripes, a 27,000-square-foot bowling-bocce-dining operation, with locations in ten cities across the country.
“We are very different experience, and our team brings lots of industry expertise to this,” says Diamond. Adds brewmaster Vaccaro: “Would you rather be here in this cool downtown location or in a mall?”