Owner's Corner: Your 3rd Spot Builds Community & Customer Experience

owner's corner

In the much-beloved television series Cheers, the establishment’s well-known motto was, “Where everybody knows your name.” For Atlanta-based Your 3rd Spot, the sentiment is much the same. The bar is building a strong sense of community through innovative interactions and shareable food and drink experiences.

Getting Started

At the beginning of the pandemic, a group of senior leaders with many years of “eatertainment” experience banded together to develop the idea for Your 3rd Spot in Atlanta, Georgia, which would feature not only food and drinks, but also games and entertainment in its model.

“We had the foundation for how to run the business, but we set out to do things a bit differently,” says Doug Warner, co-founder and chief innovation officer at AMP Up1 Hospitality Management, which powers Your 3rd Spot. “Rather than most places that focus almost exclusively on one game as their centerpiece (e.g., bowling, darts, mini-golf, etc.), we started with our purpose, which is ‘Connecting People and Building Community.’ We knew if we focused and obsessed over those principles first, we could build a more sustainable and emotionally resonant brand.”

So instead of locking themselves into one game, Warner and Co-Founder Josh Rossmeisl at Your 3rd Spot built out their chosen venue with plenty of games so guests’ exploration could evolve and each visit could be a little different.

As Warner explains, they focused on food that could be shared to create more of a community feel.

“The name came next as we read about the concept of the ‘third place’ by a sociologist named Ray Oldenburg, which supposes that everyone has their first place at home, their second place at work or school, and they need a ‘third place’ as the home-away-from-home where people convene, socialize, eat, drink and enjoy each other's company,” Warner says. “All of the pieces of the puzzle started to come together as we stayed true to that north star of ‘Connecting People and Building Community.’”

Aesthetically Pleasing

As the founding team designed the venue, they wanted to make sure it had the calming serenity of nature brought indoors, so patrons will see a lot of lush greenery throughout. They also integrated the lighting to mimic a night sky with strings of festoon lighting. And rather than building a traditional dining room, they included “cabanas” in the middle of the room where groups can eat and have their “home base” before spilling out into the “ocean” of games and experiences surrounding them.

“We also brought on a local artist named Peter Ferrari to contribute to some of the cooler accent pieces throughout the building,” Warner says. “The whole space is designed to have a circular flow, so there aren’t any dead ends as you explore. Our goal was to create a space that takes you out of the ‘real world’ and transports you to something unique, welcoming, and memorable.”

Eats & Treats

With games comes the need for fun menu options and Your 3rd Spot doesn’t disappoint. The menu was purposefully built to focus on small plates—those wonderful gems for sharing among small groups.

“We feel strongly that a shared experience is the absolute best way to dine. Rather than locking into one entree per person, we encourage two to three small plates per person to be shared so individuals in the group get to taste more, trade notes, and strike up more enriching conversations,” Warner says.

Indeed, dining is an inherently social activity, and this style allows the social element to thrive at Your 3rd Spot. Director of Culinary Innovation Stuart Rogers heads up the dining program and has created a beautiful combination of “Comfort Zone” dishes, which are a little more familiar but may have a fun twist. Some of these gems include Korean Fried Chicken Slapstick, Blue Crab Fritters, Fry Bread, and Smoked Brisket Tacos. The venue also boasts “The Foodie Section,” which gets a bit more adventurous and includes such culinary delights as Brisket Agnolotti Pasta, Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Strawberry Toast, and Roasted Bone Marrow.

“We’re very proud of the food program, and we believe it's a big contributor to our goal of connecting people and building community,” Warner says.

On the drink side, Your 3rd Spot offers the ever-popular cocktail sampler tree – a fun way to try the establishment’s top-selling craft cocktails all in one go with five smaller versions of each. It's carried over in a beautiful vessel that matches the aesthetic of the building.

“It's extremely popular and another good way to try new flavors and start a conversation as a group. We’ve also partnered up with Trees Atlanta, a local nonprofit community group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving, and educating. A portion of each cocktail sampler tree sale goes to the organization,” Warner says.

Your Third Spot bar games
Your Third Spot has a circular flow, and its goal is to create a space that takes you out of the "real world" and transports you to something unique, welcoming, and memorable. (Photo: Landon Springer / Chuckyfoto & Media)

Fun Abounds

As part of Your 3rd Spot’s mission, the founding team wanted to make sure that they didn’t lock themselves into being known for just one game. Rather, they wanted to curate a list of social, lightly competitive games that are easy to pick up quickly.

Erickson points out that the team searched far and wide, even traveling overseas to build relationships and find the perfect games. Each guest purchases an “experiences pass” as they enter, which gives three hours of access to over 70 games throughout the facility, including cornhole, giant Jenga, Connect 4, auto-scoring darts, classic and modern arcade games, auto-scoring curling on synthetic ice, and more.

“Our vision, much like with the menu, was to offer both familiar and new experiences to allow exploration, discovery, and excitement,” Warner says. “Aside from bowling, which is an additional charge, there are no limits to how many games you can try with that pass.”

Before actually entering the main gaming area, Your 3rd Spot features an “Experience Room” that guests have to walk through to get to the main area. In the “Experience Room,” staff greet them and provide the rundown of what to expect before entering the main space.

“We did this to keep the entry moment as Zen and focused as possible because it can be distracting to take in so much sensory data in the main space,” Warner says. “Once guests are locked in and feeling comfortable, we open a big, ornate door for the ‘grand reveal’ as they enter. The outdoor area is intended to be a fun extension of the main space where guests can play an awesome yard game as if they were at a fun barbeque on Fourth of July weekend.”

Your 3rd Spot’s goal is for every guest to leave feeling more connected to other people and a part of something special. Once they get that feeling, the team hopes to have them back often to continue exploring and connecting.

“The ultimate outcome for us is for our guests to consider us their genuine ‘third spot,’” Warner says. “We knew that we wanted to build a place that people would want to share through the intentional design and experiences. Having that grand reveal as we open the big door in the ‘Experience Room’ creates that magical reveal moment that really lends itself to the visual storytelling of TikTok or Instagram. The most frequent comment we hear in posts is that ‘it's a vibe.’ There is something about the space that shifts the energy from the outside world in a very cool way, and it naturally makes people want to share.”

Your 3rd Spot's team asks every guest as they enter how they heard about the venue, and at least 60% to 70% of guests report that they found them on TikTok or Instagram reels. Now, the team can go onto TikTok any given day and see 10 to 30 new videos pop up of people enjoying the space.

Your Third Spot bar games
Your Third Spot features a wide variety of games, including cornhole. (Photo: Landon Springer / Chuckyfoto & Media)

“The coolest part is that it's happening organically. Rather than paying a potentially disingenuous super-influencer to talk about us, our influencers have become our community, who genuinely have enjoyed the experience as it was intended and want to share it with their circles,” Warner says. “For my money, it's the greatest testament to a job well done when people are proud and excited to share their stories in our space with their friends and family.”

Recently, Your 3rd Spot was named a finalist for the Industry Excellence Award for Best Bar. As Warner explains, it provided the entire team with a burst of pride just to be mentioned as a top three finalist for their very first year of operation.

“There are a lot of very smart, hard-working, and passionate folks who have sacrificed and chosen to believe in this journey for over three years,” Warner says. “Perhaps it's cliche, but a lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into creating Your 3rd Spot, and it's incredibly validating to know those efforts are resonating.”


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