Fulton Alley brings hip bowling into focus. — Photo courtesy of Fulton Alley
Striking out on a dinner date is usually not a good thing. Unless you bring your honey to Fulton Alley, the spanking new 12-lane venue on Fulton Street behind Harrah’s in New Orleans. Close to New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and steps from Canal Street and the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, Fulton Alley puts bowling in a whole new category.
Dreamed up by two local entrepreneurs - Shawn Barney and Kyle Brechtel - the concept for Fulton Alley started as a shared graduate school project at Tulane. The notion of a hip bowling scene isn’t new in cities including Philly and L.A., where brands like Lucky Strike give the game a lounge vibe. In New Orleans, Rock ‘n’ Bowl is the gold standard, a live music and pins venue owned by the Blancher family.
“There’s only one Rock ‘n’ Bowl,” says Brechtel. “We’re going for something very different.”
Situated in the former Harrah’s bus depot, Fulton Alley oozes coolness from the VIP area for private groups to the artwork from local New Orleans artists Mitchell Gaudet and Michel Varisco to the craft cocktail program curated by Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal, the duo behind trend-setting bars including Cure.
Executive Chef Mike Nirenberg, formerly of Tivoli & Lee, Oak and Delachaise, has created a bold contemporary Southern-influenced menu, with small plates and cocktails served at your lane. Don't miss the off-the-hook fried brussels with a hot pepper glaze, deviled eggs topped with cracklins and smoked, fried and glazed chicken wings, with many ingredients sourced locally from places like Two Run Farms.
Chef Mike Nirenberg cooks up a fun menu of modern Southern comfort food like these smoked wings at Fulton Alley. — Photo courtesy of Fulton Alley
Fulton Alley’s design is about as far away from Rock ‘n’ Bowl’s down home vibe as it gets, with the sleek incorporation of reused brick and reclaimed barge board combined with ambient lighting fixtures and candles.
There’s even a bowling concierge to take care of your party, from bringing (fresh looking!) shoes to offering tips on how to get that perfect strike. The games are automatically scored, which gets you off the math hook so you can focus on your technique, and your cocktails.
This is a grown-up scene. Kids under 21 are only allowed on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Other than that, the place is all about date night, girls' and guys' night out and corporate groups, with facilities for up to 450 people and an outdoor courtyard facing Convention Center Boulevard.
Bowling costs $15 per 30 minutes and $25 on Friday and Saturday nights, with up to six people per lane. Shoes run $4 and group packages come in all flavors.
“We tend to be late adopters here in New Orleans,” says Brechtel. “We believe that Fulton Alley is an idea whose time has come."