HUNTERSVILLE – Nearly two years in the making, the newest addition to the “things to do” list in north Mecklenburg is now open for business.
Frankie’s, on a 20-acre site in the mixed-use Bryton development off N.C. 115 at the southern edge of Huntersville, held a low-key “soft opening” over the weekend. And the multi-faceted facility – offering a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities and amusements paired with full-service restaurant and beverage service – is primed for the holiday season.
“I am ready,” Doug Godley, managing member of the family-owned firm that owns Frankie’s, said Nov. 28, one day before the center opened. “We’re excited about getting this place up and running.”
The Frankie’s in Bryton is the fifth in the family-run franchise, which dates back to 1990 when Godley and his brother, Ken, opened the firm’s first fun park in Charleston, S.C. Other Frankie’s are in Columbia, S.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Raleigh. Construction on the Huntersville facility – officially referenced as Frankie’s of Charlotte – began in January 2017.
“Rain, rain, then more rain,” is how Godley described the weather that regularly disrupted construction and turned the project into a nearly two-year adventure. But he said the location fits perfectly with the Frankie’s business plan.
“We draw from a 30-mile area on weekdays and about 50 miles on the weekend,” Godley said. “This is the spot we wanted, close to (Interstate) 485 and easy to get to from a lot of places.”
Jason Printzenhoff, a 13-year member of the Frankie’s team and general manager of the new facility, said the construction schedule got frustrating, but the goal remained to get everything in place before the arcade doors – along with the outdoor rides, putt-putt courses and go-kart tracks – opened.
“Now we are ready, and we want to get people here so they can see everything we have to offer,” Printzenhoff said.
Games, gadgets and gatherings
The arcade floor, featuring 120 different games, is the first eye-catcher inside the 84,000-square-foot main building at Frankie’s. There’s an 8-foot tall Pac-Man game, a multi-person hologram arena and an indoor “Drop Zone” ride.
Separate rooms house bumper cars and a two-story laser tag zone set in what Printzenhoff described as a “post-apocalyptical Charlotte” setting. It includes a replica of the iconic, slanted-roof Duke Energy building, which lights up to show team scores.
There is also a 24-lane bowling alley, a three-story netting-encased kids climbing zone and an 800-seat cafe and party area. The cafe’s patio area features glass bay doors that can be raised when weather allows.
A fully-equipped commercial kitchen separates the cafe from the lounge area, which includes a 30-seat U-shaped bar with beer and mixed drinks available. And while the kitchen staff, which makes up a sizable percentage of the 300 employees who keep Frankie's hopping, can crank out pizzas, wings and sandwiches for snacks and birthday parties, they can also provide outdoor cookouts or oyster roasts for larger gatherings. And the menu options for more sophisticated functions in one of the private rooms at Frankie’s include meals ranging from spiced chicken fajitas or shrimp and grits to a complete Italian feast.
“The food choices are amazing,” Printzenhoff said.
Three 18-hole putt-putt courses are on the south side of the main building and three go-kart tracks, divided by a multi-ride carnival midway, are positioned along the western acreage.
The go-kart “Drifter” track features seven 180-degree turns, and the Frankie’s crew calls the slick track the “Shamrock” because of its multi-turn layout. The quarter-mile road course is a more traditional go-kart track and features some two-seaters so younger riders can be passengers.
And while most of the attractions at Frankie’s are suitable for all ages, it’s not a place for unattended children. Those 18 and under must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Printzenhoff and Godley said they expect the newest Frankie’s will be a popular destination for all types of group and corporate outings.
“People like to do fun things,” Printzenhoff said, “and here, you have a lot of options. It’s a great place for group events.”