Kings Bowl, an upscale bowling alley and restaurant, opened Monday in North Hills with plans to cater to families, as well as an adults-only nighttime crowd.
The Boston-based chain began renovations at Sparians, another bowling alley that billed itself as an eat-and-bowl entertainment destination, earlier this year.
Between the purchase price and renovations, Kings has put about $5 million into the 18-lane alley, with $300,000 dedicated to sound and video alone, said Patrick Lyons, the company’s president and founder.
“The DNA of a Kings bears no resemblance whatsoever to the old place,” he said.
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Lyons said Raleigh has the mix of upwardly mobile young families and post-college sports and entertainment fans the company looks for in new markets. Kings has five other locations: three in Massachusetts, one in Chicago and one in Orlando, Fla.
Kings said it has hired 175 people to staff the new Raleigh location.
Michelle McCullough, 45, one of the first customers through the door Monday, said she likes the new floorplan and decor. Sparians too often felt crowded and difficult to navigate, she said.
“The whole makeover has blown me away,” she said. “It looks so upscale.”
The Kings in North Hills has a variety of games in addition to the bowling lanes, including billiards, foosball, darts and shuffleboard. The cost is $6 per bowling game, and a shoe rental costs $3. Games such as ping pong or billiards run $12 per hour and are prorated by time.
On opening day, Kings staff also touted the alley’s multiple bars and full-dinner menu. The company says it prepares fresh, seasonal food using local ingredients whenever possible.
“I think people know the difference,” Lyons said. “We take simple and casual food and execute it well.”
A Bud Light at the alley costs $4.25, and a burger is $4.25. The alley is open to those ages 21 and older starting at 6 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. the rest of the week.
Lyons, who also heads entertainment and restaurant development company Lyons Group, said he turned to bowling alleys after years in the nightclub and restaurant business because he saw a niche for down-to-earth entertainment.
“How fashionable or elitist can you be when everyone is wearing the same shoes?” he said.