As the nation becomes vaccinated and social distancing eases, hands-on retail is making a comeback, with restaurant-entertainment chain Pinstripes set to open at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield malls in New Jersey and California.
Pinstripes, based in Northbrook, Illinois, has signed leases for space at Westfield Garden State Plaza in shopping mecca Paramus, New Jersey, and at Westfield Topanga & The Village in the Canoga Park area of Los Angeles, the global mall operator said Wednesday.
Pinstripes describes itself as “an experiential dining and entertainment concept combining exceptional Italian/American cuisine with bowling, bocce and private-event banquet space for groups of 20 to 1,000.” The chain has 13 locations now, with five more slated to debut next year. In addition to Paramus and Los Angeles, those include the Florida markets of Orlando, Aventura and Coral Gables.
Two years ago, the chain struck deals with two other mall operators, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties, which acquired minority stakes in the company.
Before the worldwide pandemic struck in spring last year, “experiential,” or retailers offering experiences, was the buzzword. Malls were looking to add or had added entertainment- and sports-related, once nontraditional tenants — such as gyms, grocery stores and that old standby, movie theaters — to drive foot traffic. But crowds were essentially forbidden during the outbreak. To stop the spread of COVID-19, nonessential stores were temporarily shut and even when they were allowed to reopen social distancing mandates were in place.
Out and About
Retail executives, at Pinstripes, Unibail and other companies, said Americans are eager to get out and socialize again now that a significant portion of the nation is vaccinated against COVID-19 and most social-distancing restrictions have been lifted.
But concerns still remain. The spread of the super-contagious Delta variant appears to be an increasing cause of close attention by among public health officials.
Even so, a Merlin Entertainment Sea Life Aquarium, whose debut was delayed by the pandemic, opened last month at American Dream, the mega entertainment-and-shopping complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A Legoland Discovery Center also bowed at American Dream at the same time.
During a “Retail Resilience” webinar that real estate services firm JLL held Monday, one of its top research executives said he was preparing a presentation on what he called the “experience explosion.”
James Cook, JLL’s Americas director of retail research, said, “We’re talking experiential retail, we’re talking eat-in dining, all that fun stuff that we haven’t been able to do. That’s coming back now, and we’re seeing a lot more tenants with experiential elements expanding, which is great. And that’s what excites me. That’s what, for me, is the best of bricks-and-mortar retail.”
Unibail expressed similar enthusiasm for experiential retail. Pinstripes “is a perfect fit for the dynamic experiences we are creating at our flagship centers across the country,” Colin Shaughnessy, executive vice president, U.S. leasing at the mall owner, said in a statement.
“As demand once again increases for places to gather — for business and pleasure — we look forward to introducing concepts like Pinstripes to our premier destinations, and providing new opportunities for our guests to shop, dine, work and play,” Shaughnessy said.
Movies, Bowling and Dining
The Pinstripes location at the Garden State Plaza is slated to open in late 2022, joining a tenant roster that includes a 16-screen AMC movie theater, which Unibail described as one of the most successful AMC theaters in the country; and restaurants such as Capital Grille and California Pizza Kitchen.
There are other Pinstripes located near AMC theaters, including one in Chicago that’s close to an AMC theater that also has a bowling alley, Lucky Strike. And AMC isn’t the only theater chain that is adding bowling to its premises.
At Westfield Topanga, Pinstripes will be a part of the 180,000-square-foot expansion currently under construction by Unibail. The work includes the demolition of a former Sears store at the mall to create a “vibrant district” at the corner of Victory and Topanga Canyon boulevards.
The expansion will feature a chef-driven food hall; lounges and cocktail bars; unique interior and exterior boutiques; entertainment including an AMC theater and recreational activities; and indoor and outdoor public spaces and plazas. Pinstripes is expected to open when the expansion debuts next year.
“Our iconic venues feed the souls of our guests, young and old, and are yearned for more than ever in this post-COVID environment,” Pinstripes founder and CEO Dale Schwartz said in a statement. “We look forward to creating extraordinary, magical connections in these two [Garden State Plaza and Topanga] communities — from the first strike, to the first bite, to the first kiss, to the first laugh — that bring out the best in everyone.”
Pinstripes’ Other Mall Deals
In October 2019, Pinstripes and mall owner Simon announced they were partnering, with the chain getting leases at three future locations within the mall operator’s portfolio in addition to its existing Clearfork development in Fort Worth, Texas. Simon also made a minority equity investment in Pinstripes.
Prior to that, in April 2019, Pinstripes completed a similar multilease/minority-equity investment transaction with Brookfield. Combined, those two partnerships represent six future Pinstripes locations including $15 million in minority equity, according to Pinstripes’ statement in 2019.
American Dream’s developer, Triple Five, has long positioned the complex as strong on experiential offerings, which include an indoor water park, indoor amusement park, an ice rink and an enclosed snow dome, as well as the new additions of the aquarium and Legoland.
In a financial filing for bond holders this week, American Dream reported as of June 30 the development was 76% leased, and including leases under negotiation, is roughly 81% leased. The complex has more than 3 million square feet.
Unibail touted its new lease signings, in addition to Pinstripes, and store openings within its U.S. portfolio, including Hermes, Golden Goose and a Salvatore Ferragamo expansion deal at Westfield Topanga, as well as Aesop, Diesel and Under Armour at Garden State Plaza.