My Brilliant Career: Striking It Rich

Justin Amick

Justin Amick is co-founded of the Painted Pin, a boutique bar and bowling alley that’s become one of Atlanta’s hottest entertainment venues.

Bowling alleys typically evoke images of warm beer, cold fries and ugly shirts, but one Freeman School alumnus is turning that perception on its head.

Justin Amick (BSM ’04) is co-founder of the Painted Pin, a boutique bar, bowling and entertainment venue that in the last three years has become one of Atlanta’s most popular nightspots. Located in a former industrial warehouse in Buckhead, the sprawling speakeasy draws overflow crowds by combining
bowling and other indoor games with a surprisingly sophisticated menu of upscale comfort food and craft beverages.

“Back in the day, you’d associate amusements with lower quality food, but that’s where we differentiate ourselves,” says Amick. “We really bring a different level of food and beverage to our concept. I can’t think of another entertainment concept that has five sommeliers on staff.”

Including Amick. He’s one of just six advanced sommeliers in the state of Georgia.

It’s not an exaggeration to say the hospitality business is in Amick’s blood. His father, Bob Amick, was a partner in Peasant Restaurants, a pioneering white-tablecloth chain that grew to 42 restaurants before being acquired by Morton’s Restaurant Group. He went on to found Concentrics Restaurant Group, which blazed a trail in the Atlanta dining scene of the 2000s with a series of acclaimed restaurants including Two Urban Licks, One Midtown Kitchen and Trois.

“We were at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement in Atlanta,” says Amick, who joined Concentrics in 2008 after completing the management training program at Craft restaurant in New York and serving as a winemaking assistant at Trinchero Family Estates in Napa, California. “Two Urban Licks was the first restaurant in the United States to feature wine on keg, which is very common today, and Trois was the first true craft cocktail bar in Atlanta. We were always trying to bring in new ideas and outside-the-box thinking.”

In six years with Concentrics, Amick served as general manager and beverage director of Two Urban Licks, Parish Foods and Goods, and the Spence as well as designing beverage programs for the company’s consulting clients.

It was in those roles that he first began to notice a gap in Atlanta’s nightlife scene.

The Painted Pin

The Painted Pin combines sophisticated food and craft cocktails with 20 boutique lanes featuring vintage Chesterfield couches and full lane-side service.

“I was 32 years old at the time, and there were no sophisticated alternative forms of entertainment for people my age,” Amick recalls. “You could go to a nice restaurant or go to a movie, but there was nothing fun and different. That’s where we saw an opportunity in the marketplace.”

A former Tulane basketball player, Amick had always had a love of sports and competitive games, so it was only natural for him to combine that interest with his experience running high-volume restaurants.

In 2014, Amick and partner William Stallworth launched the Painted Pin to give Atlantans a new nighttime entertainment option. In addition to bowling, customers can try their hand at bocce, table shuffleboard, ping pong, Skee-ball, darts, giant Jenga and other games while dining on chef-prepared small plates, sliders, tacos and wood-fired pizzas — what Amick calls “upscale alley fare.” Patrons can also choose from an extensive list of imported and microbrew beers, wines by the bottle and glass, and classic and custom cocktails.

The formula proved to be a success. Largely on the strength of word of mouth, the Painted Pin has become one of Atlanta’s most-popular entertainment venues, with the wait time for lanes on weekend nights stretching to four hours or more.

“It’s probably one of the busiest bowling venues in the country,” Amick says. “The volume we do is unreal.”

Amick’s development and management company, Painted Hospitality, is currently exploring the possibility of expanding the Painted Pin to other cities, but his next venture will be closer to home. The Painted Duck, slated to open this fall on Atlanta’s Westside, will offer customers a similar entertainment experience to the Painted Pin but with a twist: Instead of traditional bowling, the Painted Duck will
feature duckpin bowling, a regionally popular variation that features smaller balls and shorter, wider pins. The Painted Duck will also feature an indoor horse shoe pit, deck shuffleboard, laser skeet shooting, private karaoke rooms and Belgian feather bowling, an obscure, bocce-like game played with balls that resemble wheels of cheese.

Bowling may be the common denominator, but Amick says the appeal of his concept is more fundamental.

“It’s not that people love bowling,” Amick says. “I think people love entertainment, and bowling has always been one of those classic forms of entertainment that anyone can do. I think that’s why we’ve been successful.”

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