Food & Drink

Miniature golf pub and restaurant to open Sunday next to Golden 1 Center

Downtown Commons’ new Flatstick Pub is aggressively Sacramento.

There’s the central two-ton Tower Bridge replica crafted by Gina Rossi with side paneling of Sacramento Railyard spikes and lost golf club heads donated by William Land Golf Course. Local breweries’ keg shells serve as obstacles on the nine-hole miniature golf course. Structures for the bar’s distinctive “duffleboard” game are painted purple and white, and the game’s neon backdrop will turn purple as well when the Kings have a home game.

There’s 916 pride, for sure, and Sacramento-area customers will make up the brunt of Flatstick’s clientele. But after the multi-use pub opens at noon on Sunday, co-owner Jennifer Robinson hopes it’ll draw in out-of-towners visiting next-door neighbor Golden 1 Center with little clue what else to do in Sacramento.

“Being from Sacramento, it’s an amazing city to live in, but when you travel people are like, ‘Oh what is there to do in Sacramento?’ And you’re like, ‘Well there’s not a tourist list of things, it’s just a really cool place to live,’” said Robinson, an El Dorado Hills native. “We just want to show people from outside the city that we’re a cool place to be.“

The couple behind the 21-plus “adult playground” at 630 K St. tried to fit as many entertainment options as possible into their 14,000-square feet, most of which is in underground and used to house the Ruhstaller taproom that has since moved a block away. The mini golf course with three holes spelling out “SAC” is supplemented by corn hole, a photo booth, TVs showing sports highlights and a kitchen turning out mostly tacos as well as a few other Tex Mex-inspired bites.

On the other side of Flatstick’s 40-tap bar pouring exclusively Northern California craft beers and wines sits duffleboard, a golf/shuffleboard hybrid. Players get one stroke per hole to push a golf ball toward the hole on waist-high artificial turf with a purple “putter;” their score rises as they hit hazards along the nine-hole course.

Each duffleboard hole has cupholders; the mini golf holes all have places to rest a beer. Robinson said she sees Flatstick as a destination for companies holding team building events, a place to get away from the kids or just a spot to catch up with friends where food and alcohol are part of the equation without being the sole attraction.

“You get to interact on a more tangible level than you would if you were just on a date or if you’re just with your friends out at the bar on your phones,” Robinson said. “It’s a more face-to-face interaction so you can connect like we used to connect before cell phones.”

Robinson and her husband and co-owner Brandon stumbled across Flatstick Pub on a trip to Seattle, the only other city where it currently exists. Flatstick’s Seattle owners were initially uninterested in expanding until the Robinsons flew them to Sacramento and took them on brewery crawl, Jennifer Robinson said, proving they were in tune with local creations.

The Robinsons are licensees, not franchisees, meaning they get to use the Flatstick name while changing whatever they like to fit the Sacramento market. Among the additions: a 1920s Hollywood Country Club-themed, members-only speakeasy called the Trophy Club with a full bar carrying liquors up to the $3,500-a-bottle Rémy Martin Louis XIII cognac, plus cheese boards and charcuterie plates.

Brandon and Jennifer Robinson’s brother-in-law Jesse Ledine, formerly of the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, will be Flatstick’s general manager. The Robinsons opened 15 med spas (and then sold nearly all of them) and continue to run a real estate holding company.

A round of golf costs $12 per person and duffleboard is $9 a head, with $3 discounts before 6 p.m. during the workweek. All-you-can-play lifetime memberships with beer discounts run $95 — $50 for the first 150 buyers on Sunday — while Trophy Club lifetime passes cost $399 and include all downstairs membership amenities. Memberships apply to the three Seattle-area locations as well.

Flatstick Pub’s opening hours are noon to midnight Sunday through Thursday and noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.
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