Since opening in 2007, the Domain and its adjacent development, Domain Northside, have been called Austin’s second downtown. Now with the March 26 announcement that popular entertainment hub Punch Bowl Social is planning to open the city's second location on Congress Avenue, the question must be asked: Is Austin's first downtown becoming more like the Domain?
According to a company rep, Punch Bowl Social has signed a letter of intent to open a new location in the Scarborough Building at Sixth Street and Congress Avenue. One of Austin’s few existing examples of art deco architecture, the building most recently was the location of a large Brooks Brothers store before it shuttered in May 2017. The new location of Punch Bowl is tentatively scheduled to take its place in February 2019.
The 13 outposts of the Denver-based company are like a more sophisticated version of Dave & Busters, combining entertainment like karaoke, virtual reality bowling, arcade games, table tennis, and pool with a food and beverage program designed to attract a more contemporary customer that has outgrown chain food.
In 2016, the brand scored a coup by partnering with celebrity chef (and notable unibrow proponent) Hugh Acheson, who overhauled the chain's menus and instilled a focus on seasonal ingredients and scratch cooking.
The Punch Bowl rep told CultureMap that founder and CEO Robert Thompson had been on the hunt for a new Austin location for a while. He zeroed in on the Scarborough Building both because of its architectural beauty and proximity to other entertainment destinations like Sixth Street and the Warehouse District.
The Punch Bowl location will be the third Domain and Domain Northside anchor to colonize downtown. Two Fox Restaurant Concepts eateries with North Austin locations have opened in recent months — health food focused Flower Child in December and Italian favorite North Italia in January.