Eater-tainment: Why Pinstripes feels its unique concept will make Paramus location into destination for business community

33K sq. ft. venue — dubbed ‘Bistro, Bowling and Bocce’ — aims to make Garden State Plaza center for corporate events

Let’s start by offering three key insights about Pinstripes, the unique bistro-bowling-bocce “eater-tainment” destination that officially opens Friday at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus:

  1. Its name has nothing to with the New York Yankees (its first location was in Chicago);
  2. It’s not a new concept (this is the 16th location nationwide, just the first in New Jersey);
  3. It’s built for events of all magnitude (they account for 50% of the revenue), but it has a special draw to the corporate world.

Those were just some of the takeaways from founder and CEO Dale Schwartz at the jam-packed soft opening Thursday night.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The 31,221-square foot, two-story venue — one that features 13 bowling lanes and seemingly just as many event spaces — is the first since the company (founded in 2007) went public at the start of the year.

It fulfills a seemingly lifelong quest to bring the brand to the greater New York City area — one that Schwartz said began more than three decades ago, when he pondered buying a bowling alley in New York City.

Pinstripes has evolved into so much more than that.

Yes, there are two areas for bowling (a four-lane room and a larger nine-lane room) and a bocce court (who knew that was such a draw) — but, if you’re thinking this is just an upscale Dave & Buster’s, you’re missing the point, Schwartz said.

“We say we’re sophisticated fun — and there’s a market for that,” he said. “We have high-quality food and wine and entertainment.”

And, while Pinstripes figures to attract a large number of birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and baby showers, Schwartz said the multiple event spaces give it a special appeal to the business community.

“We can do a luncheon meeting, a company bonding event or a full-scale event with up to 1,000 people,” he said.

“We’ll do 1,000 events here this year.”


You wouldn’t think the mall business is suffering across the U.S. if you tried to find a spot in the parking lot of the Westfield Garden State Plaza on Thursday night.

It was packed. Like you would experience during the holidays — in the ’90s.

Wesley Rebisz, senior general manager of the property, was thrilled. The property remains one of the largest in the state. Rabisz said its continued relevance can be tied to its efforts to continually find unique offerings for the community. Offerings like Pinstripes.

Some revelers enjoying the evening.

“It’s a new use that we’re adding to the property,” he said. “It’s not a restaurant and it’s not entertainment. It’s a fine restaurant establishment with entertainment.

“We’re looking forward to having the communities of Paramus and Bergen County enjoy this unique concept.”

Paramus Mayor Chris DiPiazza was just as happy.

“This place is just awesome,” he said. “Eater-tainment: How cool is that? It keeps the mall vibrant and obviously will be an economic boost for the town, so we’re excited.”

The deal to bring Pinstripes to Garden State Plaza did not happen overnight. It took … years? That’s how Schwartz tells it.

“I love the New Jersey market,” he said. “We love strong communities and strong business environments, and we get both here. It took so long because we’re hyperselective.

“I’ve been looking in Jersey for 15 years. When I saw this mall property and what Westfield is doing to continue to transform it was, I thought this would be a phenomenal spot. When this particular location opened up, we jumped at it.”

Schwartz promised it would be a decade before the next New Jersey location. And, while he said American Dream likely is too close to the Paramus location, he said he’s been intrigued by possibilities at the Mall in Short Hills, Menlo Park and the Princeton area.

“As we make our way into Philadelphia,” he said.


Combining bowling and bocce provides more than just alliteration — it offers guidance on the menu.

“Bocce and bowling allows us do Italian American food and Italian American wine,” Schwartz said. “It’s a duality that we lean into.”

The menu makes that clear.

Some of the food available.

Items such as chicken parm ($27), baby back ribs ($28 for a full rack) and char-grilled rib-eye ($38) are among the entrees — while gnocchi and vodka sauce ($22), lasagna ($22) and lobster mac and cheese ($26) are among the pasta.

There are burgers and chicken sandwiches and wood-fired pizzas, too — not to mention wings and pigs in a blanket. Dessert, of course, brings gelato and tiramisu.

There are premium wines, craft beers and specialty cocktails, too.

Open seven days a week, Pinstripes also offers a brunch.

Tanner King, the senior general manager at the location, said it’s all part of the business model.

“Pinstripes stands for sophisticated fun — and you can only do that if you are committed to the hospitality piece,” he said. “We offer a variety of experiences.”

Especially for groups.

“We can customize any event for the liking of the individual or the group,” he said. “Some people like to enjoy themselves downstairs in our ballrooms, others go in the bowling alley — and some people just want to enjoy happy hour. We are here to serve.”


Now, about the name: Pinstripes.

“It’s for bowling pins and pinstripe suits — but, mostly, pinstripe suits, because we want to show that we’re upscale, a change for the stereotypical bowling place,” Schwartz said.

So far, the concept has worked.

Fun and games at Pinstripes.

The company, headquartered in Chicago, now has 16 locations nationwide. And, since it went public earlier this year, it now has an infusion of cash to quickly expand to more markets.

New locations in Orlando and Coral Gables, Florida, and in Walnut Creek, California, are up next.

Schwartz said his goal is to have Pinstripes everywhere.

“The name isn’t specific to the Yankees, so we can still open in Boston and be OK,” he said.

Hmmm. We’ll check back on that later.