When the local skate park shut down, Jackie Andrews decided to ensure that her son, Beau, would still have a safe, legal place to practice his favorite sport. According to a recent profile in 360 West magazine, Jackie understood the challenges she faced from city officials but simply would not take “no” for an answer. The tenacious single mother of two was no stranger to entrepreneurial feats—nearly two decades ago, with no retail experience, she opened Chelsea's Tea Room, which gradually expanded from a tiny room to a 3,000-square-foot boutique.
Still, Jackie reflects, “opening a skate park is not the easiest thing to do,” and when the time came to build The Pier Skatepark she leaned on the design expertise of San Diego–based skate-park designer Brent Kronmueller. Housed inside a hangar-sized warehouse, his eventual layout would try to capture the sensation of skating outside with touches such as decorative palm trees interspersed among the park’s collection of rails, ramps, ledges, and exasperated high-school principals.
Since opening, the park has attracted not only local skaters but celebrities such as Lil Wayne, who recently paid a special late-night visit. When they aren’t celebrity spotting, guests can earn physical-education credit for school, enhance their skills during five-day summer camps, and hold contests to determine who has the coolest trick or the stickiest grip tape.
More than 325 bottles of international wine fill Zambrano Wine Cellar’s shelves and its climate-controlled wine cellar, arranged by chef, wine enthusiast, and owner Cef Zambrano. When not hobnobbing with celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Nolan Ryan, and Katie Couric, Zambrano coordinates a menu of bistro fare to harmonize with his library of wine selections, which received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2009. Zambrano presents updated takes on Mediterranean favorites, crafting small plates of escargot broiled in garlic butter and shallots, as well as four types of bruschetta topped with tomato, chicken, duck, or fillet tips. Diners can dive into shared nibbles with custom plates of international meats and cheeses or pizzas topped margherita-style or with signature spanish ham.
Zambrano’s prized glass wine cellar sits behind a smooth stone bar, inlaid with variegated amethyst that glows as it catches the light better than an outfielder with a magnifying glass. While perched at its high-backed leather banquettes, diners can sip from the 50-plus list of wines by the glass while gazing at a flat-screen TV in the corner or admiring the custom art on the dining room’s exposed-brick walls. In the front of the dining room, gauzy orange curtains frame sheets of sunlight that illuminate simple wooden tables, each adorned with a single flower that provides color and an amuse-bouche for hungrier guests. A sidewalk patio offers al fresco dining and bustling sights of Sundance Square.
Every graduate of The Premium Institute of Bartending Schools' 34-hour mixology program can count on one thing—being hired as an on-call bartender with Premium Event Staffing, a company that provides staff for private parties and corporate events. Like a pie-fight truce, this guarantee benefits everyone involved. Students get to earn income while they use the institute's job-placement services to find a steady gig at an affiliated bar or elsewhere. Premium Event Staffing in turn gets access to bartenders who have completed the mixology program and who know their way around a muddler.
The reason even the institute's most recent graduates are so comfortable behind a bar isn't that they're wearing footie pajamas under their clothes—it's that classes take place in such a realistic setting. Students work at a bar setup that includes bar guns, liquor bottles, and 14 types of glasses, and they learn to pour on a real draft-beer system. This hands-on approach also characterizes the four-hour introductory classes the school holds for people who wish to learn to make martinis, shots, frozen drinks, or other specialties.
Gene Estes suspects that growing up in the 'dry' precinct of Abilene, Texas may have inspired his alcohol-based ingenuity; he crafted his first batch of wine from Concord grape juice when he was just 23. Years later, after holding various pharmaceutical jobs and putting to use his Masters in Microbiology, Estes' interest in wine re-emerged with a full and passionate force. Today, as the president and vintner of Lost Oak Winery, Gene works alongside resident winemaker Jim Evans to craft a host of award-winning wines. Among them is the 2012 Viognier, which scored a double gold in the renowned San Francisco Chronicle International Wine competition—meaning all five judges awarded the varietal with top scores before gilding the bottle twice in molten gold.
The winery itself offers both guided and self-guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the wine-making process complete with samples straight from oak barrels. Additionally, special events draw guests to the lush grounds for live music, wine club events, and the pre-Christmas holiday open house, where they can place preemptive wine orders with Santa.
It's a good idea to arrive early at Movie Tavern, and not only if you hate missing the opening credits. Early birds can peruse the extensive menu of chef-crafted American cuisine, from kobe beef sliders to pizza and sandwiches. But even after the show begins, the snacks keep coming. Unobtrusive servers slip in during the show to deliver orders, and can be called on for more drinks or dessert with the push of a button. Guests can even sip margaritas or signature cocktails at the full bar before heading in to the theater. The family-friendly establishment also serves finger food for kiddies.
As for the entertainment, audiences get to enjoy all-digital presentations of first-run films any day of the week, plus Retro Cinema every Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m. as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Audiences also benefit from Movie Tavern's membership program. Anyone can sign up for free online to receive one free bag of popcorn, plus a free ticket every year on their birthday, special offers, movie news, and invites to screenings and other special events.
Landscaped holes sprawl across the grounds of Putt-Putt Fun Center's three locations, challenging visitors to take hold of putters and test their short game. Besides putt-putt golf, the center has batting cages that hurl baseballs and the occasional tomato at various speeds. The attractions at Alley Cats Entertainment Center, include kid-friendly laser tag, rock-climbing, and an arcade, as well as a bar with billiards for the grown-ups. Both locations are home to giant arcades featuring state-of-the-art games and redemption centers to cash in tickets for prizes.
Specials and parties are offered year-round including summer camps, which are offered through Alley Cats and Putt-Putt Fun Center's multiple locations. At camps, kids ages 5 to 13 experience daily themes in a classroom setting from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., from June 9 through August 22. All facilities are fully licensed for daycare and activities include days such as magic day, where children are taught tricks by a professional magician.