While the idea Splitsville bringing bowling to Foxboro is a hit, it’s the alcohol that has some selectmen worried.
During the two hour public hearing for a liquor license transfer from the Dana Farber Field House to Splitsville no vote was taken for the transfer but more light was shed on what the luxurious bowling establishment will bring to Patriot Plate.
After a few years of discussing the idea of bringing bowling to the shopping center, Splitsville represents the most serious attempt to bring the activity to Patriot Place. Founded in 2003 in Tampa, Splitsvilles lanes has five locations and touts itself as a luxurious bowling experience for anyone.
“It really does go from family bonding to team building. We’ve hosted everything from six year old birthday parties to my 95 year old great aunt’s birthday party,” Co-founder Mark Gibson said.
Aiming to open in April, the 20,000 sq. ft. building is expected to be open starting at 11 a.m. everyday and until 1 a.m. Thursday - Sunday. Closing time for the rest of the week is to be decided.
The family friendly environment that can also provide entertainment for an older audience at night was part of the reason why residents and managers at other Patriot Place restaurants spoke in near unanimous support for Splitsville.
Resident Mary Smith said that a bowling alley would eliminate the need to go to out of town to bowl.
“That inconvenience gets eliminated and youth teens have a place to go in town. It’s a nice way to round out the family experience at Patriot Pace,” Smith said.
Paul Holian, who runs a dueling piano bar in Boston named Howl at the Moon, will be apart of the partnership for the Foxboro branch of Splitsville after wanted to enter the boutique bowling industry. Holian was able to connect with Splitsville officials though a partner at Howl at the Moon.
Holian, who will be the manager of record until the general manager is brought up to speed with town and state laws, defended four liquor license violations at two Boston restaurants that have been the subject of local media reports.
“I’ve had over a million people go though my establishments. I've had a couple of issues but I have dealt with them proactively,” Holian said.
Citing an example, Holian said he went out and bought an ID scanning system to help detect fake IDs after discovering a college student that used a fake ID in one of his bars.
Recently, Police Chief Ed O’Leary traveled to Splitsville’s Disney World location and to Howl at the Moon to better understand the operation of the businesses. In both cases, O’Leary came back impressed with their procedures.
“I was very impressed by the visualization of the retro look and the dynamic of having the lanes spread out. They have a firm grasp on alcohol service with an emphasis to train staff to identify underaged drinkers and not overserve patrons, that was very well run in what I observed,” O’Leary said of Splitsville Orlando.
At Howl at the Moon, O’Leary said he saw everyone who entered the facility get carded and the technology to scan licenses as available.
After a presentation explaining the floor plan, Selectman Jim DeVellis said he was more comfortable with the project.
“I’m a little concern with the liquor license but overall I am very excised for this concept and would fit very well into the concept that Foxboro voted on in 2007 in that area of Route 1. I think this fits into what our goal was at the time,” DeVellis said. “I think my general comfort level is a lot better after I head the presentation than I was a week ago.”
Selectman Ginny Coppola mainly focused on the use of the Howl at the Moon brand for entertainment purposes insides Splitsville.
"I am impressed with Splitsville as a unique deluxe bowling thing however I am really concerned about the introduction of the Howl at the Moon concept," Coppola said. “I go on the Howl at the Moon website and it’s large drinks, jello shots. It doesn't really go with the family bowling that Splitsville is pushing.”
Officials explained that the Howl at the Moon brand is being used to bring in musicians employed by the bar at their other locations for entertainment which would likely take place between Thursday and Saturday with no emphasis on the drinking aspect of the bar.
According to Holian, Howl at the Moon employs about 100 musicians nationally to perform in their 14 bars and two locations on cruise ships.
“This is just an entertainment component, the live music. This is their careers and that is the core of Howl. We’re trying to take that entertainment component and bring it out here and provide something that doesn't exist even in a Splitsville,” Holian said.
Gibson added that the larger drinks sold at Howl at the Moon would not be sold at Splitsville.
“Then why are you calling it Howl at the Moon?” Coppola responded.
“When you think of Howl of the Moon, I think the majority people think how great the entertainment is,” Holian said. “Theses are employees, they know three instruments minimum and can play 7,000 songs on memory. We’re investing $4.5 million, it's important to have the best entertainment that we can have.”
Selectman Lorraine Brue was worry about the addition of another large venue. According to Splitsville officials, capacity is expected to be around 800-900.
“Another Toby Keith’s is about to be added if this happens,” Brue said.
Selectman John Gray also expressed concern about the effect on police with additional patrons at Patriot Place.
O’Leary said he would create a new plan to better manage detail officers to deal with Splitsville.
“If we are indeed having an additional liquor establishment, we really have to have a cohesive element and the capability to move resource if additional resources are needed,” O’Leary said. “We have to upgrade our inspection capability and on site command level structure so decisions about using resources on the site can be done on a more formalize basis instead of ad hoc each individual detail operation.”
With members of the selectmen requesting more time to digest the presentation and the public hearing, a vote on the license transfer is not expected until Nov. 5 at the Foxboro High School media center.