New concept of social entertainment Deep Ellum envisions nationwide expansion

The leader of a new concept in social entertainment and Deep Ellum bar, Electric Shuffle, has big plans to expand it nationwide over the next five to ten years.

Electric Shuffle at Deep Ellum is located in one of the neighborhood’s signature historic brick buildings and has 17 shuffleboard tables and two custom bars (Courtesy: Electric Shuffle).

Electric Shuffle allows teams of up to 20 people to play three versions of the shuffleboard, enticing them into every game and automatically tagging players using cameras that track puck placement, much like the technology used in the bowling alleys. Seven private spaces for events cater for even larger groups. The camera technology was developed by Jason Dale, CTO of London-based parent company Red Engine, who has experience with NASA and Range Rover.

Gene Ball (Courtesy: Electric Shuffle)

Red Engine operates two Electric Shuffle sites in the UK and ten sites of a similar electronic dart concept in the UK and US called Flight Club. When the leadership was looking to bring the reinvented shuffleboard concept to the United States, it enlisted Gene Ball, a former Topgolf executive from Long Island, to be CEO of Electric Shuffle USA.

“Being in Dallas, as a big hospitality incubator, I knew this was where we wanted to launch the brand,” Ball said.

Ball moved to Dallas to develop emerging concepts for Topgolf as senior director of business strategy, after working in the consulting space in New York. He’s the man behind Topgolf’s Small Market concept – a redesign of the game to bring it to new parts of the country – as well as Lounge, a Seattle-based concept using Top Golf simulation technology. Both launched in 2020.

“I like to say that I learned a lot about everything, but not too much about anything,” he said.

He left Top Golf after two and a half years, flying to meet Red Engine in London just two weeks before the pandemic ended. The group came to an understanding and chose Deep Ellum as the location for the brand’s US headquarters.

“There is something to the soul and identity of this neighborhood with its artistic community and its music that I have always loved since I moved here,” said Ball. “Our company and our brand can certainly add to the neighborhood here and bring something different to it while keeping our building and design true to the neighborhood and also calling it our home. “

The Elm Street location opened earlier this month, showcasing an interior design and menu executed entirely in-house by the London team at Red Engine. Chef Tom Morgan has put a lot of effort into Americanizing the menu at America’s premier restaurant, which features small bites, shareable platters, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches.

Red Engine chef Tom Morgan has tailored the concept’s menu to American tastes, with pizzas, burgers, salads and more (Courtesy: Electric Shuffle).

“Between Tom’s expertise and what the team did in the test kitchens, they did a great job creating an American menu,” Ball said.

From there, Ball would like to expand Electric Shuffle nationwide. His first stop? Austin, where the brand has already signed to open a branch on Rainey Street in the summer of 2022.

“Electric Shuffle in Austin will be completely different from Electric Shuffle in Dallas. Our goal is not to be a cut and paste brand, ”said Ball. He plans to study each new market and slightly adapt the design aesthetic and menu to meet the unique feel of each new city.

Next, Ball is eyeing Nashville, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago and Atlanta, with hopes of launching a third location by the end of 2022.

“Then we’ll see the growth plans after that start our expansion in 2023 at a faster pace,” he said.

Over the next five to ten years, Ball believes the US market could support 75 to 100 Electric Shuffles nationwide. All operations would remain entirely internal under Red Engine, and ultimately DFW would host two or three more of these locations.

“We can go up north to Dallas and then also to Fort Worth, without cannibalizing ourselves too much,” Ball said.

For now, he is focused on building new markets before expanding the company’s American epicenter.

“We want to get out of Texas for a bit and see how the rest of the United States likes it before we come back to Dallas,” Ball said.

Ball says each of the planned 75-100 Electric Shuffles locations will be different, tailored to the feel and tastes of their neighborhood (Courtesy: Electric Shuffle)

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