Rigby’s Entertainment Complex in Warner Robins to open Friday

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 1, 2013 

  • At a glance

    Rigby’s Entertainment Complex is located at 2001 Karl Drive off Ga. 96 just east of Lake Joy Road in Warner Robins. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday. The phone number is 478-287-6465.

WARNER ROBINS -- Steve Rigby doesn’t seem to believe in the adage that you can’t please everybody.

With Rigby’s Entertainment Complex set to open Friday, he hopes to do exactly that.

The more than 50,000-square-foot facility includes a bowling alley, a skating rink, a restaurant, an arcade, giant TVs, a two-floor laser tag arena and an upstairs balcony lounge where dad can have a cold beer.

“We’ve got something here for people of all ages,” Rigby said Tuesday as he gave a tour of the center, located on Karl Drive off Ga. 96.

Rigby, who previously developed apartment complexes, said the facility cost almost $6 million. He plans to add an outdoor go-kart track and batting cages this summer.

Monday through Wednesday, he had preview parties each night for the employees of 120 companies that were involved in the project.

If their reviews are any indication, Rigby may have a winner on his hands.

“Every day, every year,” is how often 9-year-old Reagan Buchner said she wants to come after she spent some time in the arcade.

Her mom, Heather Long, brought her three children and said after a few minutes in the place, they were already lobbying to have their birthday parties there.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “I think it’s about time Warner Robins had something like this.”

The game center includes some old-school arcade classics such as Pac-Man, as well as games Rigby said haven’t been released anywhere else yet. It also has several driving games with large, high-definition screens that both adults and children were trying out.

Rigby said his original idea was to build just a skating rink, but he did a feasibility study that showed a rink alone wouldn’t work. He then spent two years traveling the country visiting entertainment centers and pieced together a plan from the best.

The idea spawned from his personal experience with his five children ranging from one in primary school to one in college. He tended to find places were geared toward a certain age group, and there wasn’t a place where everyone could have something to do.

The bowling alley features 10 lanes with four lanes divided into a separate area that can be closed for private parties. The six-lane area is designed like a sports bar, with two large-screen TVs over the pins.

“You can bowl and watch the Atlanta Falcons on one side and the Dallas Cowboys on the other,” Rigby said.

It’s also clear from looking at the place that Rigby, a tall man, believes in comfortable seating. The bowling alley has sofas, the upstairs lounge has heavily padded chairs, and the restaurant is mostly padded booths.

“You can stay here all day and be comfortable,” he said.

No cash will be passed in the place. Instead, customers will go to a machine, swipe a credit card, and get a card that will be loaded with a selected amount of money to be used. The more money put on the card, the more bonus dollars the customer gets.

It might seem risky to build an entertainment center in a time when many families are cutting back on discretionary spending, but the way Rigby sees it, his facility can help people save.

“You can come here in your backyard and spend $10 to $100 or whatever you want to spend, versus going to Orlando to Sea World or going to Six Flags in Atlanta, and have more fun inside in a climate-controlled environment,” he said.

He said the restaurant is budget friendly, with only a few items over $10.

Mildred Snellgrose, 83, lives with her daughter in Rigby’s apartment complex across the road from the center. They had been watching the building go up and were curious to come check it out Tuesday.

“This is super,” said Snellgrose, as she sat and watched the young folks skating. “It’s got everything under one roof.”

The facility will employ 160 people, mostly part-time with 10 full-time managers.

The center also has several rooms for private parties and conferences. Rigby said he already has booked 33 adult gatherings, ranging in size from 240 people to 1,000, and about 300 birthday parties.

He hopes to get into franchising, but that’s not his focus at the moment.

“Right now, I just want to make this successful and profitable,” he said.

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