The leader of a shuffleboard-based entertainment and bar concept, Electric Shuffle, has big plans to take it nationwide in the next decade.
The concept lets teams of up to 20 people to play four versions of shuffleboard, prompting them through each game and scoring players using cameras that track puck placement—much like the technology used at bowling alleys. Seven private event venue spaces cater to even larger groups.
The camera technology was developed by Jason Dale, technology director at London-based parent company, Red Engine, who has experience with NASA and Range Rover.
Red Engine operates two Electric Shuffle locations in the United Kingdom and 10 locations of a similar electronic dart concept across both the U.K. and the U.S, called Flight Club. When leadership was looking to bring the reimagined shuffleboard concept stateside, it tapped Gene Ball, a former Topgolf exec originally from Long Island, to be CEO of Electric Shuffle USA.
“Being in Dallas, as such a great incubator for hospitality, I knew this is where we wanted to launch the brand,” Ball said.
Ball moved to Dallas to develop emerging concepts for Topgolf as senior manager of business strategy, after working in the consulting space in New York. He is the man behind Topgolf’s small market concept—a redesign of the game to bring it to new areas nationwide—as well as Lounge, a Seattle concept utilizing Topgolf’s simulation technology. Both launched in 2020.
“I like to say I learned a lot about everything, but not too much about anything,” he said.
He left Topgolf after two-and-a-half years, flying out to meet execs from Red Engine in London just two weeks before the pandemic shutdown. The group moved ahead with plans, and chose Deep Ellum as the spot for the brand’s U.S. headquarters.
“There’s something about the soul and identity of this neighborhood with its arts community and music that I’ve always loved ever since I moved down here,” Ball said. “Our company and brand can definitely add to the neighborhood here and really bring it something different while still keeping our building and our design true to the neighborhood and also call it our home.”
The location on Elm Street opened in November, showcasing interior design and a menu executed in-house by Red Engine’s London team. Chef Tom Morgan spent ample effort Americanizing the menu, which features small bites, shareable plates, pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches.
From here, Ball would like to scale Electric Shuffle nationwide. His first stop? Austin, where the brand has already signed for a location on Rainey Street that will open in summer 2022.
“Electric Shuffle in Austin will look completely different than Electric Shuffle in Dallas,” Ball says. “Our goal is not to be a copy and paste brand.” He aims to study each new market and adapt the design aesthetic and menu to cater to each city’s unique feel.
Next, Ball is eyeing Nashville, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, and Atlanta, with the hope of launching a third location by the end of 2022.
“Then, we’ll see the growth plans after that and start our expansion in 2023 at a more rapid pace,” he said.
In the next five to 10 years, Ball believes the U.S. market could support 75 to 100 Electric Shuffles nationwide. All operations would remain entirely in-house under Red Engine, and eventually, North Texas would house two or three more of those locations.
“We can go up into North Dallas, and then also Fort Worth as well, without cannibalizing ourselves too much,” Ball said.
For now, he is focused on building out new markets before expanding the company’s American epicenter.
“We want to get out of Texas a little bit and just see how the rest of the U.S. likes it before we come back to Dallas,” Ball said.