Entertainment Bar, Ax-Throwing Coming to Town Center

Breeana Greenberg

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After watching the Town Center Plan gain approval and seeing the area develop over the years, resident Bret Johnson felt that the one thing the Lantern District is missing is entertainment venues. 

Johnson is looking to fill that void as he looks to bring a new sports bar, multi-sport simulator and entertainment venue on Del Prado Avenue. 

“Our goal is to provide activities, because I’ve lived here 16 years now, and that was always the biggest thing,” Johnson said. “There’s not much to do, plenty to eat and drink, especially now that we got the downtown up and running. So, we felt that the best thing that we could bring to town was some fun activities.”

Johnson noted that seeing the town develop since the Town Center Plan was approved, “it’s almost gotten there, but it took a lot longer. Obviously, we had some delays with COVID and even before that.”

“But the idea is, we just need to really bring something to the community,” Johnson said. “That’s the one thing that I’ve noticed–every one of my friends and everyone else that lives here that I’ve been talking to–there’s just not enough to do, and there’s no real anchor point yet.”

The Lantern District is getting there, though, Johnson said, adding that he believes his entertainment venue will be just what the area needs. 

If you’re going to go out and do something fun with your friends or family, you’re usually traveling to neighboring cities, or going into Laguna or San Clemente or going further into Newport Beach. So we wanted to bring that here.”

Originally, Johnson and his partners in the venture looked to create an ax-throwing bar, dubbed SAXY. 

The name on the sign in front of the blue building on the corner of Del Prado Avenue and the Street of the Amber Lantern will change, as Johnson said the owners are looking to broaden the concept for the space. 

“The name out there, SAXY, was an original concept we had, but we’re changing it to The Prado Club,” Johnson said. “Next door, we’re going to have the new Prado Apartments, so we’re kind of tying everything together and bringing the community together between that building and here.”

While the club will still host ax-throwing, Johnson explained that the concept is evolving. 

“That was the idea; there was nothing in South County, nothing along the beach in this area. There is (an ax-throwing bar) in, like, Lake Forest … but I just didn’t feel like it was the full representation of what it could be,” Johnson said. 

“I think that was the one thing that people realized, sparking from COVID, was being stuck indoors, you’re just craving to do things,” Johnson continued. “So, when we finally got the opportunity to go out and do things again, the success and popularity of gaming … people are gravitating towards that.”

Johnson added that he and his partners decided to pursue the general entertainment route in the Lantern District, because the area “is underserviced.”

“I always want things to walk to,” Johnson said. “So, we were like, what can we put in here that is walkable, that would service all the people going to the bars and restaurants and stuff that are in town?” 

“That’s where the idea for an arcade originally was, but then it’s evolved into this kind of mixed, family and adult kind of fun,” Johnson continued. 

The large dining and sports bar area will have 20-foot screens and an area for live entertainment, Johnson said. The dining area will also have a robotic bar.

“We’re going to have traditional bartenders and bar service, but to support them, we’ll also have a robotic bar,” Johnson said. “So, literally, (it has) robotic arms; it grabs the glass and goes up to the ceiling where there’s hanging bottles and makes a perfect drink, shakes it and then pours it into a glass and then serves it out.”

“The nice thing is, if you’re sitting at one of our tables or anywhere in the venue, you can go on the app and just press a drink, and it’ll instantly start getting made,” Johnson continued. “So if the bar is backed up or anything, it’s additional support to be able to get things out.”

Johnson noted that the club is not trying to be a restaurant, but it will serve “elevated bar food,”

“We want to have the traditional things when you go to a sports bar,” Johnson said. “So we’re going to have wings, but we’re looking at organic, pasture-raised wings and organic sauces. So it’s the same thing you’re going to get, but it’ll be air-fried and cooked in a different way, but healthier.”

In addition to wings, Johnson noted that the club is looking to serve tacos, burritos and breakfast burritos and more.

Opposite the dining area, the building will host golf simulator suites.

“They’re multisport as well, so you’ll be able to play basketball, football, hockey, soccer, even shooting games,” Johnson said. “The rooms are going to be multifunctional, so you can rent them out for a private party; you can watch a game with your friends and rent them out that way; you can do karaoke in them, a million different things.”

“It’s not just for virtual golf; we wanted it to be very flexible,” Johnson continued. 

Besides the sport simulator suites, The Prado Club will have three ax-throwing lanes. 

“We’re probably going to do a blend here of axes and dart lanes as well,” Johnson said. 

The ax-throwing and dart lanes will use augmented reality to project different targets, making the games more interactive, Johnson explained. 

“You still throw a physical ax and physical darts, but the dart board and the ax targets are completely white, so they still act as a normal target, but the projector projects onto it,” Johnson said. “There’s a sensor built in so it knows where you hit it. So, it’ll like explode or count the points for you–all those things.”

On the second level, the existing mezzanine will be extended for extra seating to watch entertainment below or as a space for events. 

“We’re thinking for, like, corporate events, people that want to do team-building, they could come rent out the space and do their speech on the stage and then have a bunch of group activities, things like that,” Johnson said. 

The mezzanine will also host pool tables that can convert into dining tables, Johnson said, as well as additional multisport golf simulators. 

“So, the idea is, people can come and rent a multispace, so if you have a party for friends, you can play games in there, play pool or use it for food and beverage,” Johnson said. 

Johnson noted the partners are still exploring a membership plan for the club.

“We hope it’s so successful that it will be booked out and advanced, but that’s why we wanted to do that membership thing for the locals, because if it is booked out, we want to be able to give some sort of incentive for the locals to jump in line first,” Johnson said. 

All of the partners are local Dana Point business owners, Johnson said. 

The concept for an entertainment spot in the Lantern District has been in the works for a little over a year now, Johnson said. The dream, Johnson said, is to open the club by early summer 2024.

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Breeana Greenberg www.danapointtimes.com EYE ON DP,Business Beat,Dana Point,entertainment venue,Multi-sport simulator,New Business,Orange County,sports bar,the Prado Club

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2024-01-09 19:47:01 , Dana Point Times

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