by Steven Doyle
Bowl and Barrel opened wide this past week and has already enjoyed a bit of success. The new restaurant implements a small bowling alley to combine the owners love for food and recreation. This fantastic concept is tucked away in a massive space to the rear of The Shops at Park Lane in North Dallas. Conceived and operated by Josh Sepkowitz and Kyle Noonan, both SMU grads, they decided to leave their steady 9 to 5’s to venture into the world of restaurant management.
The team has already experienced some success with many corporate holiday parties booked, the future for Bowl and Barrel seems bright. The pair have also taken duties at the newly re-opened Sunset Lounge on ross Avenue in Dallas as operating managers. Look for a few new concepts that they have rolling around in their heads, but for now enjoy the 15 world class lanes and the restaurant chef-imagined by Sharon Hage.
For more a more in-depth look at Bowl and Barrel jump further for this week’s Q&A where we sat with Kyle Noonan over a few pretty special hot dogs and cold beer.
How did you decide to go into the restaurant business?
Josh and I were college roommates at SMU. From the moment we met we hit it off. He is my son’s godfather, I was best man at his wedding, the whole deal. We knew we had these common values and ideas, but at the same time we have very different skill sets. Josh graduated first in his class in business, he is brilliant – I’m not. He is great with finance, great with numbers.
I was an art and art history in college so I have the creative side.
I understand you have a terrific restaurant background.
I do. I was with Pappas Brothers for 13 years, most of that out of state. I left a year ago, the same time Josh left his company, a real estate private equity firm here in Dallas. We had come up with this idea [Bowl and Barrel]. We realized there were no bowling alleys in Dallas and he is a big bowler. We both left our companies and started Free Range Concepts with the intentions of opening a food and service driven company with some other unique component to it as well.
How were you able to pick up Chef Sharon Hage for your restaurant?
The restaurant world is very small. We met with Sharon and very quickly realized we meshed very well together. She has the same core beliefs of quality and service, and really just a passion for giving it your best. We sat down and told her our vision here and primarily it was not only great food, great service, but this sense of community. Hence our huge communal table.
We loved the idea of shared plates and getting people involved with each other.
What were the discussions like with Sharon when planning the menu?
There were a few strategic things we knew we needed to have. Because we are bowling, it’s not a place you come in and order a bowl of soup. It needs to be fun and active, grab with your fingers type of food. It has to be casual, fun and approachable food. We know that bowling and beer is synonymous, so all the food is compatible with beer. Those are the two core components and it grew from there. Oysters, sausages, sandwiches.
The dog is a popular item right now, and I am sure you have had some great hot dogs in Chicago. How does yours compare?
That’s where I started eating dogs. If you put quality ingredients on any food item like hot dogs, or pizza, it is going to taste good. That’s where Sharon did a great job sourcing quality ingredients locally and putting a lot of care into the garnish that goes on the hot dog. Chicago is a hot dog town, and I think the people from Chicago would be proud of this.
You seem to be enjoying the business so far.
The biggest compliment we have had so far was from a woman who had just moved to the area a few months ago. She stopped me on her way out and said she had met more people that night then she had in the two months she lived here. She now has four new friends she’s going to lunch with next week and is really excited about that. She sat at the communal table and talked with the people around her.
This is exactly what we are looking for. I lived in Chicago and it’s what I was used to there. Texas in general has these big, open spaces but once you break that barrier, people really enjoy it I find.
It’s two in the afternoon and it’s busy in here already.
Yes, there are about 60 people in here right now. That’s what is so nice about this concept. It drives traffic at times when you wouldn’t think a restaurant would be busy.
Tell me about the shoes. Do you really have to wear those damned shoes when bowling?
Yes you do. Shoes have a felt bottom that does two things. One is it allows you to bowl properly without breaking an ankle or twisting a knee. It gives you a little slide. And two, it doesn’t scar up the wood floors. You want to wear the shoes. I tried to bowl in sneakers here and it just doesn’t work. `
Bowl and Barrel 8084 Park Lane, Dallas 214-363-2695