Boston, MA (RestaurantNews.com) Commons /’kamenz/ (noun): Land or resources belonging to or affecting the whole of a community.
The team behind the up-and-coming experiential dining concept, Ke’nekt, has released a rendering and discussed the idea behind their new indoor/outdoor beer garden branded as “The unCommons”. The space draws inspiration from trends that have emerged in a hospitality world highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. One “post-Covid” hospitality trend the team believes is here to stay is an increase in outdoor dining space.
“One trace of normalcy that remained in 2020 were small outdoor gatherings when the weather was just right, great food was on the grill, fun games on the lawn and, most importantly, good friends all around,” says company founder and CEO, Josh Rossmeisl. “Outdoor dining and experiences made most of the positive memories this year as groups of friends and family headed outdoors for rare ‘together time’. This isn’t going away after widespread vaccination,” Rossmeisl asserts.
With “The unCommons”, Ke’nekt is looking to bottle up the positive energy of worry-free, outdoor gatherings and make it available year-round. The ethos of the room is born of community togetherness in an environment that evokes the energy created around outdoor gatherings. “We almost called it ‘The July 4th Room’ because it’s among everyone’s favorite day of the year to gather and escape, but it didn’t quite roll off the tongue like ‘The unCommons,’” joked Rossmeisl.
As an “eatertainment” brand, Ke’nekt’s games will play a central role in the space. “Some of the most universally beloved games are low-tech, analog experiences like Cornhole, which has exploded in popularity in the last 10 years and has become ubiquitous with outdoor fun,” says co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer Doug Warner. “We have some tricks up our sleeves to elevate these games with features like easy, digital scoring and automated queueing to create a premium experience in our indoor ‘Ke’nekt Kornhole Arena’.”
A beer garden would be incomplete without a few lagers and ales which the team intends to deliver in two unique ways. A “Pour-Your-Own” Beer wall with a curated selection of local and popular favorites will encourage guests to explore new flavors. Guests will also be able to pre-purchase bottled selections and load them into wheeled “Ke’nekt Koolers” for those seeking a more authentic backyard cookout vibe.
Design is a key element to creating the feel of a perfect day indoors and there has been a lot of thought poured into creating the perfect environment. The design team set out to take everything people love about a beer garden and substitute rows of traditional monochromatic tables and chairs for stand-out “experiences” such as modular couches, swings, seesaws, and picnic tables. A nearly two-story treehouse, complete with a DJ booth sits in the center of the room for guests to “climb” and watch all of the action from the mezzanine level. Guests can walk back down from the treehouse or take the slide to the adjacent outdoor patio with more activities.
“The biggest challenge for an indoor entertainment venue is when it’s 80 degrees and sunny, our guests want to be outside,” explained Rossmeisl. “We would pray for rain on the weekends in the summer, otherwise we would just accept we would be a ghost town. It doesn’t have to be that way. The goal was to have our guests think of Kenekt as their “go-to” spot on rainy days, sunny days, and every day in-between”.
On beautiful days, the garage doors go up and the unCOMMONS doubles in size creating a massive indoor/outdoor experience. Fans have even been strategically placed to recreate the perfect “summer breeze” and lighting helps achieve the feeling of a beautiful summer day, perfectly timed with the setting sun. Technology such as projection mapping is being used to dynamically and subtly change the look and feel of the indoor environment. “We’ve designed this room with extreme intent to capture the escape of a beautiful day. There are dozens of small, but crucial details that will create joy and visceral energy,” says Bill Whitlock of Whitlock Design Group.
It wouldn’t be a millennial playground without brunch and the team has unveiled plans for an “unCommon” brunch offering on weekends. In an attempt to help eliminate the “Sunday Scaries” in favor of memorable experiences, the modestly-priced package will include live music, unlimited gaming, elevated versions of classic Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, premium coffee and an evolved brunch buffet. True to brand form, the buffet will be experiential in nature highlighted by a build-your-own pancake station where guests can construct anything from buttermilk classics to colorful, candy packed, Instagram-friendly short stacks.
The expert team behind Ke’nekt, largely composed of former executives from “eatertainment” brand Kings Dining & Entertainment, believes the concept comes at a time when people will be clamoring for it most. While the venue is designed to be an upscale adult experience that will still have many of the gaming aspects consumers have grown to love such as bowling, shuffleboard, billiards, retro arcade games, and other innovative technology, the concept is rooted more in the analog experiences to allow its guests to “unplug” and enjoy a much-needed respite from the digital world they are immersed in all week long.
“Our guests will be emerging from this unprecedented period of isolation and separation, and we predict they will be beyond eager to connect meaningfully with one another,” says Rossmeisl. “Our goal is to provide a new sensory-rich environment that is in tune with those desires and to color these cathartic gatherings with standout, novel experiences. It doesn’t have to be a perfect day outside to have a perfect day at Ke’nekt.”
Ke’nekt is an innovative experiential “Eatertainment 2.0” destination marrying social gaming, tapas-style dining, and creative craft beverages. Ke’nekt creates a clean, safe, social environment rooted in the idea that low-tech games foster conversation, laughter, and genuine human connection. Guests can “unplug” with options like bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, and dozens of specially curated retro arcade and head-to-head games, enjoy the gaming-centric indoor/outdoor “unCommons”, or gather in one of the Ke’nekt Cabanas, Karaoke Suites, or Private Bowling Rooms. By day, guests frequent the built-in Ke’nekt Cafe featuring premium coffee, espresso, and matcha drinks before transforming into a full-scale social gaming emporium by night complete with top local DJs. Loyal guests can enjoy the membership program offering competitive benefits, social community, and the proprietary Ke’nektions platform which matches members’ interests and allows them to schedule and make reservations for live meetups. For more information, please visit www.Kenekt.XYZ
About AMP Up1 Hospitality Management Group
AMP Up1 Hospitality Group was founded by a seasoned group of hospitality leaders as an incubator to grow and evolve the “Eatertainment” segment of the industry. AMP Up1 is the parent company for the innovative experiential dining brand, Ke’nekt, known for its differentiated, industry-defining food, beverage, and gaming offerings. AMP Up1 also serves as a consulting group to Eatertainment and hospitality concepts, driving results through a proven systematic, people-first approach. The company, with over 200 years of combined hospitality experience, has a broad range of expertise in the field including operations, finance, HR, F&B management and development, social media, web design, graphic design, facility and gaming management, IT, risk management, real estate and more. For more information, please visit www.Ampup1.com.
About Whitlock Design Group
Whitlock Design Group is at the forefront of hospitality and retail design with a large portfolio of dynamic and innovative retail, restaurant, and entertainment venues. Their fresh and trendsetting approach tells a unique story about each project, with cutting edge architecture and interior design concepts. For more information, please visit whitlockdesigns.com.
Doug Warner | Chief Innovation Officer
DWarner@Ampup1.com | Office: 339.223.2028
AMP Up1 Hospitality Management Group