Gaming lounge, others launching after pandemic delay

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Press Play Gaming Lounge in Brownsburg was on the brink of opening when the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to pause, but owner Raymond Embry says he’s beefed up his sanitation and safety protocols and is ready to open later this month.

The family-friendly entertainment center is at 1004 E. Main St., in a 25,000-square-foot space that formerly housed a Marsh supermarket and a host of other tenants. It offers virtual reality, gaming, Nerf and basketball play areas, a bar area and other amenities.

Embry, a technical writer by training and a gaming enthusiast, said he got ideas for his facility by visiting theme parks, casinos and entertainment centers around the country with his wife, Misty, and their five children.

Embry had planned to open Press Play with invitation-only events in late February, leading up to a grand opening in mid-March. But COVID-19 disrupted those plans.

“Everything kind of threw everything off,” Embry told IBJ Wednesday. “We had to change a lot of the way we do things.”

Embry’s plan now is to open the facility either late next week or early the following week.

Over the past few months, Embry has been readying the facility by adding hand- sanitizer dispensers, installing sneeze guards at the customer service counter and snack bar, and posting signs to inform customers of safety rules and procedures. He’s also planning to use steaming equipment to sanitize the facility’s couches.

In February, Embry said he’d gotten encouraging results from social-media marketing campaigns aimed at Brownsburg-area residents. He said he is still optimistic that crowds will turn out for Press Play’s delayed opening.

“A lot of people aren’t going to be traveling any more…so this is the next best thing,” Embry said.

According to state guidelines, amusement facilities can open at 50% capacity starting Friday.

We have several other pieces of news this week:

— The downtown restaurant, bar and entertainment venue Punch Bowl Social, which has been closed since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, says it plans to reopen but has not yet set a date.

Punch Bowl Social has a 23,000-square-foot space at 120 S. Meridian St., in Circle Centre space previously occupied by the department store Nordstrom. The venue includes eight bowling lanes, two bocce courts, three private karaoke rooms and three bars.

The Denver-based chain closed all 20 of its locations because of the pandemic, opting not to offer curbside pickup or delivery service.

A Punch Bowl Social spokeswoman told IBJ Wednesday that the Indianapolis location is expected to reopen by fall.

— Indianapolis-based Two Chicks and a Hammer Inc. is very close to opening its first retail space, Two Chicks District Co., at 1531 S. East St. in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood.

The “two chicks” are the mother-daughter team of Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak-Hawke, who tackle housing rehab projects for their HGTV show, “Good Bones.”

Mother and daughter acquired the 2,765-square-foot East Street property in 2016. IBJ first reported on the plans for the space in 2018.

Starsiak-Hawke’s sister, Kelsy Gray, is the developer of Two Chicks District Co., which includes a home décor store plus a small bar/bistro. The space will also host occasional crafting events led by Laine.

The store was originally to open in May but the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay. An invitation-only soft opening event takes place this weekend. If all goes well, the store will have its grand opening June 20.

— The local chain Bella Pizzeria has closed its north-side Indianapolis restaurant at the Keystone Shoppes, 3367 E. 86th St., but it says it will follow through with plans to open at Circle Centre.

The Circle Centre store was to open in March or April, but an employee said the shop is now expected to open in July.

Bella has two other locations, both in Hamilton County: in the Clay Terrace shopping center in Carmel, and in Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville.

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