The game isn't over for GameWorks.
The long languishing arcade-eatery hybrid is instead undergoing a major renovation by Sega Entertainment USA Inc., its Glendale-based owner, which will soon expand its lineup of 18 U.S. locations.
Sega, a unit of Tokyo-based Sega Sammy Holdings Inc., has transformed four former GameWorks locations to Arena Sports Bar & Grills and has plans to transition the rest to the new concept.
The existing GameWorks have limited kitchens and large arcades that mostly appeal to the teen crowd. The aim of the new concept is to satisfy adult customers by playing up the sports bar quotient with large plasma-screen televisions as well as attracting teens by featuring the latest video games.
So far, Sega Entertainment has invested $3.5 million to update the games and another $3.5 million to change the d & #233;cor, signage and other aspects of the eateries. The result: new games that have enhanced interactivity with a revamped menu of dinner entrees, such as ribs and steak, instead of just kids' finger food.
Before the remodels, Clint Manny, a senior vice president at Sega Entertainment, said the focus was on special occasions. Now, there are regulars who come almost every week to watch football and plunk down an average of $18 to $20 per visit.
"It broadened the appeal, more so than bringing an entirely different audience," said Manny. "What we really started to see is more repeat business."
At the redone locations in Schaumburg, Ill., Columbus, Ohio, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., food and beverage sales have jumped 20 percent since their renovation. Locations yet to be fully remodeled include local GameWorks in Long Beach and Ontario, and others in Tempe, Ariz., Tampa, Fla., Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Newport, Ky.
Sega also has two new Arena locations in the works, with plans to roll out four to six additional units annually. The units range from 18,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet.
When the company was started in Seattle eight years ago, director Steven Spielberg played a large role in its development and DreamWorks SKG was a key investor. But GameWorks suffered because sophisticated video game consoles kept players on their couches, not in brick-and-mortar arcades. DreamWorks pulled out about five years ago.
GameWorks filed for Chapter 11 protection last year. After the filing, GameWorks renegotiated leases to get lower rates and set out to recreate the chain. Sega Entertainment also bought out partner Universal Studios for just under $10 million.
The West Hollywood Wyndham Bel Age has an unusual New Year's resolution: getting people to remember its new name.
The Bel Age will soon be called London LA one of two locations that owner LXR Luxury Resorts is opening that may form the cornerstone of a new hotel brand.
The change comes with a remodel that will be completed in two stages, so that the property can remain open. "The Bel Age is going to get a pretty comprehensive overhaul," said Amy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the hotel.
Irish designer David Collins has been hired to transform interiors of the guest rooms and public spaces, while Gordon Ramsay, the British chef of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s "Hell's Kitchen," will open two restaurants at the London LA.
Another Ramsay-headed restaurant and bar will open at London NYC, the new name of the existing Rihga Royal Hotel in New York. Like the Bel Age, the Rihga is an all-suites hotel that will be getting a substantial makeover.
The London locations are part of LXR's 23-hotel portfolio, which is owned by the Blackstone Group, the giant private equity firm. The Group purchased Wyndham International last year in a deal valued at $3.24 billion.
The London LA remodel is expected to be finished in spring 2007, while the remodel of the London NYC should be completed next fall.
Construction has become the latest trend in downtown's Fashion District, where several new showrooms and retail outlets are in various stages of completion.
Work is almost finished on the L.A. Face project, a wholesale showroom space that will feature 200 units, with tenants being offered an ownership stake in their units an unusual move for the district.
The 650,000-square-foot showroom is expected to be completed this year and construction has moved far enough along that owner L.A. Properties Investment and Management has begun to sell space for $375 per square foot, the California Apparel News reported.
Meanwhile, the Jamison Properties Inc.-owned California Market Center, the largest wholesale apparel showroom venue in the area, has started to remodel its penthouse floor. The remodel is divided into two phases: the first is scheduled for completion this month and the second in April.
*Staff reporter Rachel Brown can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 224, or by e-mail at email@example.com .
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