Representatives for a UK-based chain that offers miniature golf, along with food and drink, outlined their plan to bring the concept to 31 St. James St. during the Monday, Dec. 5, virtual meeting of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) License and Building Use Committee.
Swingers opened its first location, the first of now two outposts in London, England, about six years ago and has since expanded to Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and Midtown Manhattan, NYC, said Jason Enany, senior vice president of sales for the company’s U.S. Division.
The proposed hours of operation for the Boston location are Tuesday 3 p.m. to midnight; Wednesday through Friday noon to midnight; Saturday noon to 2 a.m.; and Sunday noon to 10 p.m., and the establishment would only be open to patrons ages 21 and older.
The Boston location would have its own dedicated entrance on Berkeley Street, separate from the building’s main entrance on St. James Street, and span the ground level and basement. The ground level would include different themed mini-golf course (e.g. a clock tower course and a water wheel course), cocktail lounges, and small kitchen spaces from four, yet-to-be-determined local food vendors, while the basement would contain spaces for private parties. (Patrons would be able to eat and drink there without playing mini-golf, said Enani, but they would need to order food and drink through a sever or bartender rather than directly through the vendors.)
Swingers would work with FoodWorks, a Chicago-based, self-described “restaurant incubator” that helps local restaurants grow their businesses, to select the fours on-site food vendors, said Enani, who added these could likely include local sellers of pizza, burgers, Mexican (tacos), and dessert items, respectively.
Kristen Scanlon, the applicant’s licensing and permitting attorney, said the Boston location’s liquor license would be owned by a local entity of Swingers, which would also enter into management agreement with the individual food vendors.
While Swingers has yet to secure a liquor license for the location, Scanlon said there is still ample time for this, since construction isn’t expected to get underway until August of next year for a grand opening sometime in 2024.
“We still need a liquor license, which we have time to do,” said Scanlon. “We’ll scope them out at the beginning of the year because they’re getting harder and harder to come by.”
The price for mini-golf per each 90-minute session is currently $24 in Washington, D.C., and $27 in New York, respectively, and while the rates for the Boston location are still undetermined, Enani said he expects the price would fall within this range.
The Boston outpost of Swingers would also be seeking an entertainment license to allow for a deejay on the premises from 6 p.m. to closing time each night, said Enani.
Trash would be stored inside in a refrigerated trash room, said Enani, until it’s moved out for collection to a loading dock in the back alley, which would also be used to bring food products into the restaurant.
The Boston location is expected to have 150 employees, including nine managers, and while Swingers would likely seek a 600-person capacity for the space, Enani said there would likely never be more than 300 people on site due to the large space constraints for the mini-golf courses, which can each only accommodate a maximum of 72 patrons at any given time.
Like other locations, the Boston outpost of Swingers is expected to be a popular destination for corporate outings, particularly for legal, financial, and educational organizations, said Enany, who added that group sizes typically range between 10 and 20 people.
The applicant has an abutters meeting for this proposal scheduled for Jan. 5, said Scanlon.
In another matter, the applicant, Jason Zube, outlined his plans to open a fourth location of the Boston Tattoo Company at 244 Newbury St.
Zube, who owns three other Boston Tattoo Company outposts in Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville, respectively, as well as a tattoo-themed bed-and-breakfast establishment in Bedford, N.H., had previously appeared before the LBU Committee in November of 2019. He made a pitch to open a tattoo parlor at a different Newbury Street location, which the committee didn’t oppose at that time. Since then, however, the pandemic struck, and the plan was temporally put on hold before the original Newbury Street space was rented to another tenant, said Zube.
Besides the new location, the only change from what was previously proposed, according to Zube, is that the proposed hours of operation had been scaled back to noon to 8 p.m. from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily before.
While Zube said he expects that the Newbury Street would be the “flagship location” for his business and complement his other tattoo parlors, he said only “four or five artists, tops” would be working in the studio due to the tight space constraints and “what we’re trying to do there.”
Since body piercing would be covered by the same license the applicant is seeking from the city, the tattoo parlor might also offer body piercing down the road, said Zube, “but for now we’re just looking to do traditional tattooing.”
Zube said they don’t anticipate long waits at the Newbury Street location and added that since the pandemic struck, the business had become more streamlined and “appointment based,” rather than operating as a walk-in tattoo studio.
Asked how used tattoo needles would be disposed of, Zube said they would be stored in a box is stored in the sterilization room
where the tools are kept and sterilized, “much like a dentist’s office.” A company would then be contracted to come in regularly to pick up the used tattoo needles, most likely after business hours, he said.
Former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson spoke in favor of the application and lauded Zube as a great asset to the communities where he works, especially Medford.
LBU Committee Chair Conrad Armstrong told Zube he would inform him of the committee’s determination on his application “in the next couple of weeks.”