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The Frozen Brunch is a vanilla milkshake topped with bacon, a Belgian waffle, maple syrup, powdered sugar and whipped cream.

GameWorks Launches Chef-Driven Food Concept

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The Works Kitchen at GameWorks is headed up by Chef Tony Leitera.
By Danny Klein October 2018 Chain Restaurants

GameWorks, Inc. is bringing a new food-focused vision to life. The seven-unit entertainment-driven brand launched a chef-driven restaurant concept, The Works Kitchen at GameWorks, across all of its locations.

This has been in the making since ExWorks Capital, which first invested in 2017, took full ownership of the company in September. GameWorks, founded in 1997 in Seattle, also operates one TableTop Tap House in San Francisco. With the ownership change, Philip Kaplan took the role of GameWorks chairman and CEO, and set about igniting the concept’s food program. Kaplan replaced Greg Stevens, who served as GameWorks’ chief executive for six years.

READ MORE: Is eatertainment the future of casual dining?

“We want our guests to enjoy a complete entertainment experience when they come to any of our GameWorks locations, which includes indulging in our restaurant, participating or watching eSports in our eSports Lounges, playing our wide variety of arcade games, and enjoying some of our specialty entertainment options, such as laser tag or bowling,” Kaplan said. “The resurgence of our food offering will further differentiate GameWorks as The Works Kitchen at GameWorks takes food at entertainment concepts to a completely new level.”

The Works Kitchen at GameWorks was created by Chef Tony Leitera, who brings a 20-year culinary career to his position as corporate executive chef, the company said. Before joining GameWorks in January, he collaborated with celebrity chef and Food Network personality Guy Fieri on operating and expanding his branded locations. Leitera began his culinary career training at Wolfgang Puck restaurant before going on to open Café Deco in the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Macau, China. He also clocked time as a member of the corporate training and chef team at Darden concept The Capital Grille in Las Vegas before transitioning into the role of executive chef partner at The Capital Grille Indianapolis.

The concept spins modern American bar classics, while also featuring hearty specialties and healthy options.

“The launch of The Works Kitchen at GameWorks is an exciting development for our entertainment brand,” Leitera said in a statement. “We are placing a strong emphasis on the food we offer our guests, and with our exciting restaurant concept, we are completing elevating their dining experience. The menu at The Works Kitchen at GameWorks features a large selection of items, all done with a modern twist that makes our offering different and incomparable to the typical, traditional food and bar fare found at most entertainment concepts today. We believe there is something for everyone, and our food-forward fare caters to all ages and tastes.”

There are “Twists,” an array of Bavarian pretzels; hand-stretched artisanal pizzas; savory snacks, such as buffalo-fried cauliflower; spiced and seared yellow fin tuna sashimi; and dry-rubbed wings. Handheld specialties include the signature Works burger, a grilled cheese-stuffed 1.5-pound double burger, complemented with Sam Adams barbecue sauce and the plant-based Impossible Burger.

The Works Kitchen at GameWorks also features milkshakes, such as the Frozen Brunch, a vanilla milkshake which boasts bacon, a Belgian waffle and maple syrup; the Movie Theater, a chocolate milkshake complete with red-rope licorice, caramel popcorn, chocolate candy and whipped cream; or, the Unicorn, a rainbow sherbet milkshake with rock candy and cotton candy, topped with a sugar cone.

“At GameWorks, guests can have a complete entertainment experience in which food plays a major role,” Leitera said. “With this distinctive restaurant concept we’ve created, GameWorks is fast-building a reputation as an entertainment and eSports destination, and stands to soon become recognized for our food as well. Currently, we serve thousands of meals weekly to guests frequenting our restaurants throughout the nation, and The Works Kitchen at GameWorks will now appeal to an even broader audience.”

GameWorks, which has stores in Chesapeake, Virginia; Denver; Las Vegas; Minneapolis; Newport, Kentucky; Schaumburg, Illinois; and Seattle, ranges from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet per location, and features more than 120 arcade and video games. Other interactive activities, from laser tag and state-of-the-art bowling alleys to billiards and attractions, are offered at various locations. It’s also a big player in esports with its eSports Lounges, which the company said attract more than 80,000 guests annual who participate in or watch tournaments.

Like GameWorks, Dave & Buster’s is an “eatertainment” brand revamping its culinary program. The company is testing a fast casual tacos concept called TNT Tacos in Dallas, as well as making improvements to its standard offerings.

The tacos concept will be like a food truck, with quick takes that guests can grab in between amusement offerings, instead of stopping for a full meal. Also, earlier in the year, Dave & Buster’s reduced its menu 20 percent. It launched a new menu two weeks ago that featured fresh items such as Cantina Nachos, the Impossible Burger, Kobe Meatballs, and hand-crafted classic cocktails. It also divested resources into menu messaging with quality callouts like hand-breaded chicken, slow-cooked ribs, and all-natural chicken breasts.