April 30, 2005
A California company that has developed 18 diningentertainment complexes around the country has chosen Mesa as an ideal location to debut its new concept aimed at young families.
Amazing Jake’s Pizza Factory, slated to open in mid-July near the intersection of Baseline and Gilbert roads on the Mesa-Gilbert border, combines an all-you-can-eat pizza, pasta and salad bar with bowling, laser tag, an assortment of amusement park rides and arcade games.
Amazing Jake’s parent, Newmark Entertainment, is renovating a vacant "big-box" building — formerly a Home-Base home improvement warehouse store — to house the 78,000-square-foot family fun destination.
"The Ramesons (Newmark Entertainment founders) had a vision of a wholesome place where families could spend time together, so they did a study to find the profile, the right demographics, of a target guest," said John Herman, who was tapped to be Amazing Jake’s general manager. "Mesa is one of the best locations in the country for this concept. It had the highest concentration of the type of customer this would appeal to."
Finding the vacant Home-Base in a family-focused East Valley setting sealed the deal, he said.
If it’s a success, the company will try it in other locations around the country, he said.
Amazing Jake’s will be bigger than the popular Jillian’s at Desert Ridge Marketplace in northeast Phoenix, but it has many of the same elements.
It is pegged to house 12 bowling lanes and lots of video arcade games, including ones that dispense tickets that can be collected and redeemed for prizes, Herman said.
"Our redemption center will be the largest in the United Sates," he said. "We plan to have exciting prizes."
The entertainment complex also will feature a laser tag center, bumper cars, an indoor electric go-cart track, a rockclimbing wall and kid-focused rides including a train and a merry-go-round, Herman said.
Amazing Jake’s makes space for all that by doing away with separate bars and restaurants. Instead patrons pick up their food buffet-style at a centralized location and can eat it at multiple-themed dining areas throughout the building.
A $5.99 tab for lunch or $6.99 tab for dinner includes all you can eat from among 10 to 18 choices of pizza, specialty pastas, salad fixings, soup and dessert, Herman said.
Soft drinks cost $1. The 21-and-older crowd can purchase beer and wine at a kiosk.
While there is no sports bar, one of four themed dining rooms is set aside for sports viewing. The others include a cartoon room that shows continuous kiddie flicks, an island-themed room with palm-tree decor and windsurfing films and a European terrace-themed room to evoke the atmosphere of an outdoor cafe, Herman said.
In fact, while Amazing Jake’s is completely indoors, the company is using the building’s high ceilings and sun roofs to create an outdoor marketplace atmosphere, he said. That includes digging up concrete to plant trees.
Amazing Jake’s expects to hire about 350 employees, Herman said. The company is taking applications at its office at 1902 E. Baseline Road, Suite 7, he said.
Mesa and Tempe have been sparring over Desert Ridge Marketplace-like developments near loops 202 and 101. Tempe Marketplace’s developer has announced that a Dave & Buster’s, Jillian’s parent, is scheduled to debut at the site in mid-2006.
But Amazing Jake’s has been quietly building and will beat any rivals to the East Valley scene.
"That’s very positive for Mesa," said Charlie Deaton, president of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. "Mesa needs more family-oriented businesses because we are a big city with big families. And we need to have the tax this kind of business brings in."
Deaton wasn’t surprised that Newmark’s demographic study pinpointed Mesa for the first Amazing Jake’s.
"The fact that they even found Mesa may be more surprising that they found we are family-focused," he said.