Welcome to the kickoff of the official blog for the Highball….joint! I call it a joint in the true spirit of the era for which this new venue hearkens. I mean, what other adjective best describes a place that combines bowling, a 50s style diner, private karaoke rooms, and the potential to host any type of event that would require a stage? Multi-use is too bureaucratic. So I call it a joint. That’s not official or anything. Kind of like my own personal term of endearment.
You may have read the story that appeared in the Austin Chronicle, but here are some of the specifics about what is being installed in the old Salvation Army space, just a few doors away from the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse. These are the main components of the Highball as you look from left to right in the space:
An eight lane retro, 1960s era bowling alley: The parts that have been purchased for the lanes are truly retro. Just take a gander at the pin setters. They are old. The lanes have also been purchased and all of these various parts of the bowling alley are going to be completely refurbished.
A 50’s diner: Details as to design are sketchy right now as we are so early in the construction phase, but besides the bowling alley, this will probably be the most exciting element to watch being built. It is going to be a bar style diner (there will also be booths) that will be U shaped and the kitchen is going to be just on the other side of the bar, so in true diner fashion you can see them cooking your food. And I haven’t had this confirmed yet, but I wonder if they’ll be wearing those paper hats and ring a bell when the food is ready.
A multi-use stage: There’s going to be a stage in the back on the right hand side of the space. No word on exactly what this will be used for, but my guess is “anything.”
Six karaoke rooms: There will be six of these of various sizes, two on the main floor, just behind the diner, and four upstairs. Each room will have it’s own design theme. As the karaoke guts of these rooms are still being hashed out, I’ve got nothing more on them.
Miscellaneous fun: There will be billiard tables and skee ball in the front area of the space. The last time I played skee ball (at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk just a few months ago) I told Tim how it had plastic balls and you only got them three at a time. When I asked him about what kind of balls there would be in these skee ball lanes, he said they would be wood or "heads will roll." So rest assured, in skee ball just as in bowling, just as in the diner, it certainly seems that the Highball is going to be aimed at recreating as much of the golden era of these elements as is possible.
The current status of construction can best be described as “early.” As of July 9th, most of the indoor, underground plumbing has been installed and the grease trap is in place. Framing on the interior of the diner area has begun and outlines of the locations of the bar walls are in place. In fact, framing of the entire downstairs diner/karaoke/restrooms structure is completed and electrical wiring is being installed.
Also, upstairs all of the karaoke rooms have been framed, some sheetrock installed, and power lines and other various cables for the karaoke goodness is in the walls. Working in the office recently I was privy to over hearing the main tech dudes (Andrew and Josh) going over the technical specs for these rooms. Suffice it to say, there was just a lot of talk and research. Nothing has been decided on, but you’ll hear about it here first!!
Now, I have to be upfront and say that I have a heavy bowling bias. I’m a terrible bowler, but have always been fascinated by the mechanics involved with bowling alleys. So far very little has been done on this end of the space. The pin setters and lanes have been purchased and delivered, and there is a trench for the pin setters, but so far that is all. Tim told me that the target is to have the space functional by Fantastic Fest 2009. Considering that is in late September, I expect things will be moving along very quickly.
Be sure to check back weekly. If you desire more frequent updates, check the Highball Flickr page as I plan to stop by a few times a week to document progress in picture form, with these posts happening every weekend. I will do my best to get the nitty gritty, but remember, this place is a work in progress and much of what I report is subject to change.