Famed nationwide entrepreneur announces first “eatertainment” concept for Raleigh Iron Works.
A ‘deconstructed Southern grandma on her way to the social club,’”—that’s how 25-year restaurant and hospitality industry vet Robert Thompson describes his new “eatertainment” concept slated to open at Raleigh Iron Works next year.
To bring you up to speed, we first broke the news of the highly anticipated Iron Works development across from Dock 1053 in 2019, with the exclusive update and renderings in our fall 2021 cover story. Now we’re here to tell you about the latest “social destination” to join the project.
The first nationwide location for the “eatertainment” spot—think like Thompson’s Punch Bowl Social (nee 2012), aka social gaming meets top-notch dishes and drinks—Jaguar Bolera (“bolera” translates to bowling alley) will merge craveable dishes, an inventive bar program, social activities (think duckpin bowling, karaoke, darts) and “makertainment” activations like naughty needlepoint (!) and jewelry-making classes—all with a drink and snacks in hand, natch.
A concept Thompson says is perfect for the highly anticipated Raleigh Iron Works development—and a natural fit for the first location, which “is the most important we ever do because so much of the brand becomes embodied in that first location.” He adds: “It’s fortunate for us that we were able to find this particular project in a market we really wanted to be in. I just really like the way [the developers] are bringing this project to life. It feels very authentic.”
And, for its part, Jaguar Bolera is sure to deliver on authenticity—a place “where green chorizo meets biscuits and gravy, and where red eye-gravy meets toritalls.” In other words the concept will marry Southern and Mexican cuisine together in “a tapestry of Southern and Mexican [food],” says Thompson. Even the name, Jaguar Bolera, is a nod—derived from the American South and Mexico, territories that inspired the menu and where the jaguar historically inhabited.
Naturally, you can expect to see some innovative taco dishes on the menu, as well as things you might recognize as pure Southern, but prepared with Mexican influences. And the wood-fired techniques on full display are a nod to the “City of Oaks.” “That’s where I hope the magic all comes together,” says Thompson. That—and his award-winning craft beverage program. (Um, cheers to that!)
Beyond the food and bev program, the vibe will be just as high-energy on a Monday night as a Saturday. And Thompson emphasizes that the massive space (21,000 square feet!) will be compartmentalized and feel “as warm as possible,” adding: “We endeavored to make sure you never walk into the room and feel like you’re in a cavern.”
With Raleigh relatively lacking in the “eatertainment” department to date, Thompson is seizing the opportunity in what is certainly an up-and-coming market that’s no doubt going to be a grand slam. “Jaguar Bolera was really inspired a lot by Raleigh—the DNA here, the city, the roots here in the South,” he says, “and this connection to what we’re doing from a culinary side, with Southern and Mexican. It’s just an exciting time to be around and certainly one of the best places to live in the country.” Let the good times roll…