Last month’s Banc Review blog saw PPC Manager Matt dishing out his verdict on trendy Northern Quarter brunch spot Ezra & Gil. This time, culinary consideration duties fell to Jonathan, the latest addition to Banc’s content marketing team – who’s penned the below briefing on Manchester’s premier bowling establishment…
On joining Banc Media a little over a month ago, it soon became clear to me that bowling is the de facto office sport. The presence of trophy bowling pins around the office was the first clue, closely followed by some blatant posturing and bragging – all in the spirit of friendly competition, of course. So it only made sense that my first staff night out with the agency would be at All Star Lanes in Manchester.
When you think of bowling, you probably think of your local centre, with its stained carpets and tired old arcade machines. You went to some half-remembered childhood birthday parties there, but you probably didn’t mourn it much – or even notice – when it was demolished a few years ago to make room for a bargain megastore.
From the moment you enter All Star Lanes, it’s clear that they’ve worked hard to eschew the trashy connotations attached to bowling alleys in UK. Real effort has gone into the interior, with it being decked out in kitschy 50s and 60s Americana – complete with checkerboard flooring, neon signs and red leather booths.
Everything about the theming is spot on and there’s some really good attention detail here – kudos to whoever handles their design and marketing collateral. According to the website, even the lanes themselves were flown in from the states.
After some drinks on arrival, it was time to get down to business. We divided into three teams, each made up of bowlers from our SEO, Content Marketing, PPC and CRO departments. I hadn’t been bowling in forever and had forgotten how seriously fun it can be. Personally, I wouldn’t say that I performed well, but I didn’t entirely disgrace myself either – and that was good enough for me.
After ten frames of heated competition, we headed over to the restaurant area for a sit-down meal. The staff were really well-prepared for large parties, and a quick glance down the menu revealed that All Star Lanes subscribes to the ‘do a couple of things and do them well’ school of culinary thought, skewing heavily towards American barbeque and comfort food.
The grub was fantastic – in fact, it was far better than that at a bar-restaurant attached to a bowling alley has any right to be – with the burgers, fried chicken and ribs all getting thumbs up from our table. Really tasteful and interesting without the in-vogue ‘dirty burger’ sloppiness currently pedalled by a lot of American barbeque and street food joints in the UK.
As for the vegetarian contingent, they’ve forgone the obligatory bean burger in favour of a more imaginative nacho-fried goats’ cheese stack, mac & cheese or veggie chilli. Banc has numerous team members with varying dietary requirements, but everyone was able to find something that they liked – a definite plus in our book!
Following dinner, we swiftly got back to another game of bowling. As the teams ordered a few more rounds of drinks, caution was thrown to the wind and the ferocity of the competition increased – as did the proportion of facepalm-inducing gutter balls on all sides.
Now’s actually a good point to touch on the bar’s interesting if slightly pricey cocktail offering. The selection is quite varied, but its undoubted highlight is the Big Lebowski-inspired ‘Breakfast of The Dude’ – a twist on the classic White Russian made with grenadine and topped with Fruit Loops. If there was ever a drink to capture the quirky essence of Jeff Bridges’ iconic slacker (if such a thing is possible), this has to be it.
The next morning in the Banc office saw the passing of the symbolic bowling pin trophy to the night’s highest scorer, with previous champion and Senior Copywriter Chris inducting Account Director Antony into the Banc bowling hall of fame. Congrats Antony! Speeches were made, breakfast sandwiches were ordered, and all agreed that bowling at All Star Lanes makes for a cracking night out.
The staff at All Star Lanes are really well organised, which matters a lot when juggling one large restaurant reservation and two bowling sessions covering three lanes. And bowling is a hugely fun way to add a bit more entertainment to ‘dinner and drinks’ nights out – really addictive and definitely recommended.
Fancy offering Jonathan some advice on how to perfect his bowling swing, or just want to chat about all things content marketing? Then send us an email to [email protected]