The long-awaited opening of the restaurant, brewery and arcade from Richmond restaurant powerhouses Jason Alley, Jay Bayer and Michele Jones along with business partner Ted Ukrop is finally here.
Bingo Beer Co. opened Nov. 2 at the corner of West Broad and North Sheppard streets in Scott’s Addition.
It’s been nearly two years since the team announced the new concept, which they had in development in Scott’s Addition even before they found the specific space. Along the way, Alley (chef and co-owner of Comfort and Pasture restaurants), Jones (co-owner of Comfort and Pasture) and Bayer (co-owner of Saison and Saison Market) opened Flora restaurant together in March 2017 at 203 N. Lombardy in the Fan District. In August, they transitioned the spot to an event space and pop-up residency for area cooks or food truck operators.
But back to Bingo.
The name is a nod to the 2900 W. Broad St. space’s former life as a bingo hall. There won’t be any bingo at Bingo, but there will be plenty of games: vintage arcade games, such as Qbert, Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, plus skee-ball, pingpong, pool tables, pinball machines and a basketball game. Gamers buy tokens from the token machine on-site (there’s an ATM machine, too), and roving “floor-tenders” take drink and food orders.
“I’m really excited about it,” Jones said. “It’s a culmination of a childhood dream: owning a Ms. Pac-Man and skee-ball.”
There’s plenty of seating in the space, whether visitors are there for gaming or dining. There are several sofas for lounging, plus cocktail tables, two drink rails, a full bar and a patio.
For those there for dinner, just see the hostess at the front door. All and all, the 12,000-square-foot space seats 120.
The food menu is still undergoing tweaks, but chef Alley said it’s upscale bar food, and items will include a chili slaw dog; loaded fry dishes, such as poutine; and his version of an In-N-Out burger and a McRib.
“I’m super-excited about the menu because we’re doing our version of bar food and iconic fast food,” Alley said.
Alley also influenced parts of the bar menu, including two adult cocktails for the non-drinking crowd (though both can be used as mixers): a house-made cucumber, lemongrass hop tonic and a smoked ginger beer.
“It’s grown-up, booze-free drinks,” he said. Both will be served with cocktail-style garnish and glassware.
There’s plenty of booze-filled booze at Bingo, too, plus wine and beer. Bingo beer.
Bayer is the driving-force behind the brewery portion of Bingo. A certified brewer who studied at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, Bayer has long wanted to do a brewery in Richmond.
“The focus on beer at Saison and Flora has always been a reflection of my love of brewing,” Bayer said.
For Bingo, he wanted to focus on drinkable and sessional beers with lower APV, like lagers. Bingo opens with six of its own beers on draft, including its flagship Bingo Lager.
“We wanted a well-made, every-person beer,” Bayer said.
There’s also Black Lager and “a hazy IPA called Free Space.”
Bayer brought on Ken Rayher, previously of Hardywood and Champion, as head brewer and Sean O’Hern, formerly at The Answer, as brewer.
The brewery portion of Bingo is just getting started, Bayer said. He’s already inked a distribution deal with Specialty Beverage and plans to get Bingo Lager in 16-ounce can six packs in grocery stores soon. Kegs, crowlers and growlers also will be offered at Bingo.
Bingo’s hours of operation will expand soon, too. For now, it’s open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, but lunch hours will launch down the road, Jones said.
Parking is available in the lot adjacent to Bingo and its neighbor, Perch restaurant.
Bingo is the fourth entertainment-focused food concept to open in Scott’s Addition. Tang & Biscuit Shuffleboard Social Club, which serves biscuits, tater tots, flatbreads and wings to a crowd of shuffleboard players, opened in August. River City Roll, a bowling alley with a full-service restaurant, opened in April. The Circuit, which offers self-serve wine and beer on tap, plus sliders and tacos to its arcade customers, opened in October 2017.
Bingo Beer Co. is the first combination restaurant, arcade and brewery to open in Richmond. It can be reached at (804) 386-0290 or www.bingo rva.com.