Family entertainment center celebrates opening

Three-year-old Bailee Bowdoin had it down pat: Grab the green bowling ball, put it on the pink, dragon-shaped ramp and release.

 

Each frame – regardless of how many pins fell – ended with a high-five to her father, Chad, who was bowling with her Thursday at Stars and Strikes, Augusta’s newest and largest family entertainment center.

“I really like this place,” he said. “It’s a little bit kid and a little bit adult.”

And that’s precisely the atmosphere that owners of the bowling alley/arcade/laser-tag arena/restaurant/sports bar were going for.

“We truly have built a facility for families first,” Stars and Strikes co-founder Chris Albano said during a ribbon-cutting event for the sprawling center at Wrightsboro Road’s North Leg Plaza shopping center. “Our starting point was about kids and parents.”

Albano and partner Jack Canouse created the company in 2003 to be a more family-centric version of the national Dave &Busters chain. The Augusta facility is Stars and Strikes’ 11th and boasts a two-story laser-tag arena and bumper car floor as well as the chain’s largest arcade-game floor. Escape rooms are scheduled to open in January.

The partners, who purchased the entire shopping center, have made the bowling alley the anchor tenant.

“Just in this 55,000-square-feet we’ve invested over 6 1/2 million dollars to make this happen,” co-founder Jack Canouse said to a round of applause from business and community leaders attending the event. “We did create north of 150 jobs and we’re looking forward to not just being a part of the community as some place to go, but we get actively involved with the community.”

Stars and Strikes is the largest family entertainment center to open in metro Augusta since Columbia County’s Adventure Crossing, which closed in 2016.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said he was pleased the company chose to locate in a shopping center in need of revitalization.

“We’re excited because today is a day that we can all look at and say, ‘This is what community re-development, reinvestment looks like,’” he said.

 

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

 

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