Puttshack, a U.K.-based mini-golf gaming restaurant aims to open a new outpost this fall in the Chicago area as part of a major rollout in the U.S. With three locations in London, one in Atlanta, and more in the works in Miami, Nashville, and Boston, the brand aims to open a massive new location before the holidays inside Oakbrook Center. There are also plans for a downtown Chicago location, but no details or opening timeline are yet available.
At 25,000 square feet, the site in the mall’s former Lord & Taylor store is slated to debut this fall. It’ll include four “tech-infused” nine-hole mini golf courses that will ditch stubby score-keeping pencils in favor of the company’s proprietary technology that tracks each player’s points. It’ll also include a private event space.
Diners can expect a casual, globally-influenced food menu similar to that seen in Atlanta, with options like wood-fired Thai octopus and Korean pork bao. Other items also include flatbreads, sandwiches, and salads. If the approach sounds similar to AceBounce and Flight Club (the River North ping pong and dart bars) it should. Puttshack is from the same owners. The group also counts Topgolf, which has locations in Naperville in Schaumburg, in its portfolio.
Originally slated to to open in late 2020, plans for Puttshack’s Oak Brook location were put on hold by the pandemic. The delay allowed operators to focus on the London venues, which closed and reopened several times, and take notes on obstacles facing other gaming restaurant venues as they tried to stay solvent and prevent the virus’ spread.
“We took that time to learn more about consumers and had the benefit of our U.K. locations,” says Susan Walmesley, Puttshack’s chief marketing officer. “People behave fairly similarly on both sides of the pond... There were lots of unknowns in the early days: will people come back? Will they want to share food?”
In Atlanta, where Puttshack opened in April, the answer seems to be yes: the new spot’s most popular menu items are all shared dishes, Walmesley says. “We’ve been very surprised at how quickly people have picked up previous behaviors... People are typically coming out with a group they know and trust, mostly from their own household.”
The brand’s drive extends beyond the Oak Brook location. Puttshack this spring relocated its headquarters to a loft office building at 303 W. Erie Street in River North, according to the Tribune. Walmesley also mentioned that operators are in the “very early stages” of making plans for a Puttshack near Downtown Chicago, and workers are preparing to start construction in Miami. They aim to open four to six U.S. locations by the end of 2022.
Puttshack Oak Brook-Chicago, 1828 Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Scheduled to open fall 2021. Chicago location TBA.