Founder of Punch Bowl Social to launch a new concept

After the pandemic forced Robert Thompson's once-thriving Punch Bowl Social eatertainment concept into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection ( 15 units continue to operate under new ownership), Thompson is back building an all-new concept called Jaguar Bolero. He plans to launch the first more-premium eatertainment concept in Raleigh, NC next year, followed by one in New Orleans.

Like Punch Bowl Social, Jaguar Bolero will offer a mix of fun alongside food and beverages in a setting that Thompson described as "deconstructed grandma on her way to the social club."

The entertainment side will include duckpin bowling - "bolero" is Spanish for bowling alley - karaoke, and opportunities for what Thompson calls "maker-tainment," where at pop-ups guests can make their very own cocktails, create leather-based items, take cooking classes, attend fashion and interior design seminars, make "naughty needlepoint," and do other things that they can do with a drink in their hand. The concept is fully experiential and designed to bring people together.

The menu will marry Southern and Mexican cuisine built on wood-fired cooking techniques. There will be three bars throughout the building but no full-service dining. The Jaguar model is designed to be fast-casual-style counter-service for both the food and drink to lower labor costs. Thompson believes consumers today are happy to stand in line for higher-end fare served on real china with real cutlery - as they might in a food hall. Guests will be given geo-tracking devices so their orders can be delivered to them wherever they are in the venue.

Jaguar units will fill roughly 18,000- to 22,000 square feet. Thompson expects each unit to achieve approximately $7.2 million in revenue.

"I've been in eatertainment for 25 years... and I've been fortunate to have a lot of success in this subcategory," Thompson said. "I'd like to think we helped define the modern interpretation of eatertainment. I thought I was out of the game, but the phone kept ringing from capital groups and landlords asking me to get back in. Maybe the universe is trying to send me a message that I'm not done."