To read this story, please sign in with your email address and password.
You’ve read all your free stories this month. Subscribe now and unlock unlimited access to our stories, exclusive subscriber content, additional newsletters, invitations to special events, and more.Sign in Subscribe
Don’t have an account yet? Register here.
The sister restaurant to Springfield pizza-favorite Big Slice is opening downtown in November, but with a twist. It will be housed inside a full-blown arcade, complete with three state-of-the-art golf simulators along with all the classic games.
Bigg Time Arcade, located at 301 Park Central East in the building that previously housed Vintage Dance Lounge, is planning a soft opening Nov. 17. The opening date will depend on workers completing construction in time, co-owner Matt Faucett said.
The arcade will feature three TruGolf Signature Series simulators, as well as about 20 classic games like pinball, billiards, Skee-Ball, bowling, basketball free-throws and punching bag games.
“We’re ready to offer downtown something new and exciting,” said Faucett, who is one of five owners. “We’re not just throwing up another bar. It’s a good feeling to be bringing something here people are interested in.”
The nearly 5,000-square foot entertainment restaurant will offer the Big Slice’s full menu, including signature pizzas and calzones. The bar will feature specialty golf-themed cocktails, Faucett said. The kitchen still needs to be completed and the covered outdoor patio is still under construction, but both are near completion, he said.
Pizza will be sold by the slice, perfect for late night cravings.
“The slices and the games, it just kind of creates a place where people can have fun,” said Levi Grant, co-owner of the arcade and owner of the Big Slice.
The main floor will house the kitchen, the golf simulators and all the games, which will all surround a dining area that will seat up to 50 people, Faucett said. The adjacent bar, along with the covered outdoor patio, will allow the restaurant to seat about 100 people at a time, he said.
Bigg Time will also feature a 21-and-up upstairs lounge that will house games like reveal machines and quarter pushers, Faucett said. The arcade owns about half of its game machines and rents the others from Kinney Amusement, which is located at 525 S. Glenstone Ave.
The restaurant is planning on hosting a grand opening before the end of the year, as well as hosting an all-out New Year’s Eve Bash, Faucett said. Its sister-restaurant, the Big Slice, has two locations in Springfield, one at 1454 E. Sunshine St. and the other at 4126 S. Kansas Expressway.
The new establishment joins a growing list of restaurants and retail stores opening in Springfield’s oldest corridor, which has seen strong year-over-year growth since the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
$150,000 for three golf simulators
The Bigg Time Arcade will be the first commercial operation in Missouri featuring TruGolf’s simulators with its proprietary overhead monitor, called Apogee, said Mason Jones, marketing vice president at Utah-based TruGolf.
The three simulators, which all-together cost about $150,000, are the center-feature of the arcade and take up about one-fifth of its entire space, Faucett said.
The arcade financed the purchase of the simulators and it wasn’t an easy process, Faucett said. Faucett even had to meet with a TruGolf-designated general contractor before the simulators were installed, he said.
“I would compare it to buying a house,” Faucett said. “As far as going through the steps and the paperwork, I mean, it was an ordeal.”
Apogee is an overhead launch monitor that tracks and accurately measures ball-and-club data without the use of special clubs or balls, according to TruGolf’s website. The monitor starts at $11,500 and features a special infrared camera.
Using the company’s proprietary software, E6 Connect, the system is able to accurately measure every component of the user’s swing and ball impact, as well as show a slow-motion replay including detailed ball contact, Jones said. The system tracks ball speed, sidespin, back spin, ball contact, launch angle and distanced carried.
“We’re committed to bringing the most authentic golf experience to customers all over the world,” Jones said.
The immersive booths feature top-of-the-line soft goods like its impact screen designed to take a “ballistic battering” from balls traveling up to 180 miles-per-hour and turf that “feels like real grass,” Jones said. Along with TruGolf’s software, the simulators give the user an unmatched experienced, Jones said.
For each professional course a user can play in the simulator, TruGolf’s team make a painstakingly-accurate digital model. This includes flying drones, taking 8K photography and making height maps with Lidar scans, he said.
“Every course you play inside of E6 is accurate to its real-world counterpart within millimeters,” Jones said. “Every bunker is exactly the same.”
“Even the undulations and humps and slopes on the green are going to be exactly where they would be on the course.”
The booths at Bigg Time will allow up to four people to play a round together. A booth will be rentable by the hour and will cost about $50, Faucett said. The prices are not set in stone and some discounts may be offered, he said.
TruGolf has been producing golf simulators for decades, Jones said. TruGolf began as a subsidiary of Access Software, which was acquired by Microsoft in 1999, according to its website. Its software, E6 Connect, cost up to $600 annually and allows for over-the-air updates.
“We want people to fall in love with the game,” Jones said. “We offer approachable content no matter whether you’re a die-hard golfer or you’re a novice just looking to get exposure to the game.”
Ernie Biggs, high school friends
Just like its simulators are 20 years in the making, the relationships that brought Bigg Time Arcade to fruition run decades deep.
Co-owners Matt Faucett and Collin Saddler worked at Ernie Biggs, a longstanding dueling piano bar located at 312 South Ave. in downtown, for about 18 years. Throughout their employment at the bar, the two worked under Daniel Bryant and Jay Hickman, co-owners of Ernie Biggs.
Bryant and Hickman approached their former employees in April on creating an adult-geared downtown arcade. Bryant and Hickman already owned the building that previously housed Vintage Dance Hall, Faucett said.
The four teamed up with Levi Grant, owner of the Big Slice, to bring dining to their downtown arcade. Grant and Faucett’s friendship dates back to the late-1990’s, when they went to to Pleasant Hope High School together.