Hot on the heels of opening an entertainment center in Mesa, FatCats is expanding farther into Arizona with a third location in Queen Creek.
The brand was founded by two friends, a restaurant owner and a bowling equipment sales executive.
The first FatCats opened in 2001 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has since expanded to three more entertainment centers in Utah, plus a center in Colorado and another in Idaho which both opened in 2010.
The chain’s expansion into Arizona began in 2015 with its Gilbert venue. After the success of the Gilbert location, the second Arizona FatCats opened in Mesa last November.
The Queen Creek location is expected to open next year.
“Gilbert launched and opened up so well once people started hearing about Mesa, it was just kind of a slam dunk,” said FatCats Marketing Coordinator Trevor Cannon.
The Gilbert and Mesa locations each employ 50 to 70 workers, depending on the season. Winter is typically the busiest time because of the holidays.
The available FatCats attractions vary slightly among the different locations, but both the Gilbert and Mesa entertainment centers offer 20 lanes of bowling, miniature glow golf, an arcade and an all-reclining movie theater.
Miniature glow golf is space-themed at the Mesa location while it carries a pirate theme in Gilbert.
Both the Gilbert and Mesa centers offer a bowling special called Thunder Alley starting at 9 p.m., and typically lasts until midnight.
During this time customers in the bowling alley can also enjoy games, prizes, and music hosted by an entertainer – all for a discounted price.
FatCats centers also hosts birthday parties, corporate events, and school activities.
The Queen Creek FatCats center will be almost identical to the Mesa location.
Like the Mesa location, it will include 20 lanes of bowling, a movie theater, an arcade, miniature glow golf, and a full-service grill and bar.
The Queen Creek center is also slated to offer virtual reality activities – a feature the Gilbert location does not currently include this attraction.
The Mesa FatCats contains three virtual reality bays where customers put on a HTC Vive headset and choose from a variety of games or experiences for prices ranging from $5 to $40.
With the assortment of activities, the entertainment centers appeal to a variety of clientele.
“What I love about FatCats is we don’t really have a demographic,” said Cannon. “We hit families, we hit couples, we have date nights, we have elderly people who come in and want to bowl. We really don’t have a demographic at FatCats and it’s what makes us so special.”
Cannon said FatCats wants to encourage all of these groups to return.
“Our motto is ‘We Create Experiences That Bring People Back’ and we hope we do that every time.”
The Arizona FatCats locations were chosen based on several factors, including investor ownership in the area and a desire to add locations with movie theaters.
The first-run movies offered at both the Gilbert and Mesa locations run the gamut, from comedies to action and family-friendly flicks.
FatCats also finds the summer heat helps to drive customers indoors.
While summer is typically a slow time for the Utah locations when the weather is pleasant and people want to be outside, Cooper said it’s a boon to FatCats in Gilbert and Mesa.
“One thing really awesome about Arizona is the seasonality of it,” said Cannon. “With Arizona there’s no such thing as a slow season.”
Cannon said another important factor in choosing the FatCats Arizona locations is the people in the surrounding communities.
“Gilbert, our spot in Mesa, and then in Queen Creek, the one determining factor for all of them is they’re in neighborhoods. They’re in a community where basically the people are what make FatCats special. We go community first and then we go outward. We really want people to feel like ‘This is my FatCats.’”