• Five Restaurants and Clubs Mix Work and Play

    FROM THE Winter 2014 ISSUE

    You've got game at these restaurants and clubs. 

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY. It doesn’t do much to enhance Jane’s people skills either. Fortunately, a slew of new restaurants, bars and clubs make it easy to mix business with pleasure in the form of diversions like pingpong, bocce ball, old-fashioned shuffleboard and the latest video games.

Jolt’n Joe’s, San Diego
With four full bars, three outdoor patios, downtown San Diego’s largest dance floor and gaming entertainment like pool, darts and pingpong, Jolt’n Joe’s is "17,000 square feet of fun," says General Manager Kim Brissett. This large-scale venue can host groups from 20 to 1,000, and can even arrange a block party to accommodate an additional 2,500 people-something that local technology and communications company Qualcomm does each fall for its annual Q on Fifth gathering. The venue offers bar food like grilled cheese and Tater Tots for casual after-work get-togethers or a full catering menu for private events.

The Neighborhood Corner Bar & Grill, Santa Barbara
Whether you’re looking for a relaxed place for a quick drink with a few co-workers or a flexible venue that can host private events for 15 to 200 people, The Neighborhood Corner Bar & Grill can meet your needs. You can have a drink in the sports lounge, challenge a colleague to beer pong, Big Buck Hunter or foosball, or host a catered event on the back patio complete with tacos, pizza and seven different types of fries. "We have a lot going on," says owner Dave Burkholder. "People can participate in [the entertainment] or sit off on the side and watch and enjoy that aspect of it."

Silicon Valley Bocce Club, Cupertino
Located in the upscale Bowlmor Cupertino, the Silicon Valley Bocce Club is a luxury event space featuring a full-service private bar, bocce courts, pingpong tables, air hockey tables, and an advanced audio-visual system. The club can fête groups from five to 80; larger groups-up to 200-can spill over into Bowlmor’s 32 glowin-the-dark lanes. A replenished buffet or party platters of pizza, ravioli, mini tacos and more are provided. "We specialize in corporate events," says Samantha Bevacqua, Bowlmor’s marketing manager, "and one of the biggest perks is that food and beverage is incorporated into the package."

SPiN Standard, Los Angeles
For a new spin on game room facilities, try L.A.’s SPiN Standard, a hip social club at The Standard, Downtown LA. Just how hip is it? Actress Susan Sarandon is one of the owner/ creators. Show off your pingpong prowess on one of SPiN’s 11 tables, while enjoying craft cocktails like the drop shop, Spinlini and peppery paddlewhacker and munching on fare inspired by global street food, including mini bahn mi sandwiches and beef kafta or ahi tuna skewers. Accommodating groups of up to 250, SPiN is just as much fun for people who want to skip the pinging and ponging and just chat and chill to the club’s DJ spin music. "Some people are into the pingpong and some people just like the ambiance and experience," says Tristan Wood, the Standard’s special events manager.

The Office, San Francisco
With its vintage fixtures, dark leather furniture and exquisite wood paneling, The Office prides itself as San Francisco’s only World War II-themed private event space. Located above its sister bar, Churchill, The Office is a full-service venue, boasting a full bar, catering kitchen offering everything from Italian meatballs to potato pancakes, private entrance and security, sound and A/V systems, Wi-Fi, and-nostalgia alert!-shuffleboard. "What’s great about The Office is that everything is already set up for you when you get here," says Lauren Iraeta, The Office’s event coordinator. "I arrange all the details, and I’m present at every event for last-minute needs." Hosting groups of up to 120, The Office has worked with companies like Google, Eventbrite and Facebook, providing these high-tech companies with the perfect low-key venue for casual and fun private events.

Green salad, chicken, two veggies and a starch—that might have been a reasonable meal to serve group attendees in the last century, but it won’t cut it in 2020. Today, guests expect that a growing range of dietary needs will be accommodated, whether they’re eating keto, vegan, paleo, gluten free or some combination of all four. And, in a time when tech employees enjoy gourmet in-house commissaries on the job, it takes some serious culinary pyrotechnics to impress them.


Lots of folks claim to be adventurous eaters, but are the epicureans in your group ready for … toasted grasshoppers? If they are, send them to Cultura Comidas y Bebida, a year-old Carmel restaurant specializing in light, inventive and almost-too-pretty-to-eat traditional Mexican dishes tweaked to appeal to a California palate. Chapulines, a common bar snack in Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca, from where they’re imported, are salty/spicy/crunchy and taste a lot better than they sound.


An acclaimed chef is cooking at a new indoor-outdoor spot.