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With restaurants hosting pickleball, bowling, and more, Joy Trade aims to reshape eatertainment

Founder and CEO Robert Thompson shares how his new platform company plans to capitalize on eatertainment’s evolution.


Robert Thompson has been succeeding in the eatertainment category since way before the term “eatertainment” even existed. As he tells it, that goes all the way back to 1997, when he opened Buffalo Billiards in Nashville and included high-quality food and beverage at the attached Havana Lounge.

The proceeding 27 years for Thompson included additional eatertainment success stories, most notably the founding of Punch Bowl Social in 2010.  
These days, Thompson is founder and CEO of Joy Trade, an eatertainment platform that currently has two concepts in its portfolio: Jaguar Bolera, a bowling concept that just opened its first unit in Raleigh, N.C., and Camp Pickle, a pickleball brand that is planning to open its first location in Denver.

He plans to expand Joy Trade both by developing new concepts and by acquiring existing brands.

Thompson joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to talk about how the company represents the next growth phase for eatertainment, how consumer trends are shaping the category’s future, and why food and beverage are so crucial to eatertainment’s success.

In this conversation, you’ll learn more about why:

  • The redefined nature of work is helping to power the latest eatertainment surge
  • Eatertainment today doesn’t need the activities to excel
  • A diversity of activities will help eatertainment not be a “one-trick pony”
  • The platform model will help eatertainment capitalize on white space
  • Platforms are as much about strong leadership as efficiencies of scale
  • Dying malls and big-box stores are key to eatertainment’s growth
  • Eatertainment is so much broader than you might think
  • Have feedback or ideas for Take-Away? Email Sam at [email protected]
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