Fort Smith will be the home of the state’s first 810 Billiards and Bowling franchise in early summer.
Myrtle Beach, SC,-based 810 Billiards and Bowling has just begun its franchising push with the Fort Smith location being one of its first non-corporate locations.
Erik and Deborah Covitz decided to take the business — which meshes bowling, billiards, and a bar and grill — to Fort Smith after the couple sold their start-up printing business in Florida after 13 years in operation.
“Everybody is clamoring to get out of the house these days,” Covitz said.
The couple has lived in Fort Smith for about four years and said they saw a need for the brand in the city, adding that they’re excited to start a business in town that offers fun and entertainment for adults, couples and families.
“It was time for us to do something new,” Erik Covitz said in a recent interview. “We wanted to take on a new challenge.”
The location at 5609 Rogers Ave. consists of about 24,000 square feet and will feature 14 bowling lanes along with a VIP section with four additional lanes, an arcade, along with a full service bar, as well as food offerings. It’s expected to open in June and will employ about 40 people.
According to the International Franchise Association 2021 Economic Outlook for Franchising, a report by FRANdata released in March, if covid-19 continues to ebb, the franchising industry will have recovered to near 2019 levels in most key metrics, including business growth, employment, economic outlook and the sectors contribution to gross domestic product. FRANdata is an independent research and advisory company focusing on companies that use the franchise business model, according to its website.
The report predicted that more than 26,000 franchised businesses will open in 2021. By year’s end the sector will employ 8.3 million workers, a gain of about 800,000 new jobs. Most of the new jobs will be in the retail, food and service industries where workers were hard-hit during the covid-19 pandemic.
810 Billiards & Bowling President Michael Siniscalchi said that since the business began about six years ago it’s added five corporate stores in South Carolina, Arizona and Texas. The Fort Smith location, a franchise operation in Arizona and a new spot in South Carolina now under construction, are the company’s first franchises.
He said 810 Billiards and Bowling combines a creative menu with a premium entertainment experience. Excellent and attentive services is a hallmark of the brand, he said.
At an 810 Billiards and Bowling the early part of the day is focused on family groups and parities, Siniscalchi said, with a shift to more young adult crowd and a sports bar atmosphere as the evening progresses.
Siniscalchi said the chain did have to initially shutter its operations to deal with covid-19 restrictions, but now business has largely returned as people seek fun and entertainment. One thing that hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels has been parties and events sponsored by businesses for their employees, like the Christmas party business, he said.
“Corporate America is still bidding their time,” he said.
According to Arcade, Food & Entertainment Complexes in the US, a report by market research company IBIS World, revenue for the sector fell significantly in 2020 because of social distancing restrictions and temporary closures brought on by the pandemic. The report noted that since the industry’s performance is linked with consumer sentiment and discretionary spending, economic fallout from the pandemic could affect the segment in the short term, but revenue is expected to be up in 2021.
The report forecasts growth over the next five-year period since spending on food and entertainment tends to rise alongside economic revitalization. Revenue in the sector is expected to grow by 5.5% per year to $3.4 billion by 2026.
Siniscalchi said construction on the Fort Smith location should begin by around the first of the year. He said the company’s franchise plan isn’t focused on geography but centers on finding the right franchisees and just the right spot to open an 810 Billiards and Bowling location.
“We’re excited about coming to Fort Smith,” Siniscalchi said. “It seems like a good fit.”
CORRECTION: Erik and Deborah Covitz hold the franchise for an 810 Billiards and Bowling facility they plan to open next year in Fort Smith. A previous version of this story misspelled their last name.