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MeetOverEats: Westport Social offers good food and big fun: LHM’s new upscale gaming lounge off to running start

‘Article By Stacy Ross

The day after it opened in September, Westport Social hosted two corporate events, and it hasn’t stopped since. Corporate event business took off from the very beginning, Sales Director Jessica Utterback said. Early on, two television stations ran stories about the innovative concept and “The next day, my email exploded,” she said.

Westport Social is just one more addition to Lodging Hospitality Management’s dozen dining and entertainment options in Westport Plaza. The unique venue bills itself as a gaming lounge. It’s big-12,000 square feet with 20- foot ceilings. The space once housed a movie theater and country-western bar.

Games include shuffleboard, darts, foosball, karaoke and pop-a-shot (with a regulation-size hoop, no less). There’s even a game to play on the patio just outside the front door-a giant version of Jenga (where wood blocks are removed
from the tower one at a time until it collapses). Other entertainment includes live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
TVs throughout the venue can display a company’s logo or slide show. Two are 9’ x 16’ and generally show sports.

Utterback hosts between five and 15 corporate groups a week including lunches, happy hours, team-building events and evening entertainment for conferences. Monsanto, Express Scripts, and Paric have all hosted events here.

Industrial chic
There are similar venues across the country, LHM’s Todd Hotaling said, “but none that do it with the style and sophistication of Westport Social.” The venue is family-friendly until 4 p.m. when it becomes 21 and over-but Dave & Buster’s it’s not. Westport Social has a decidedly industrial-chic feel. There’s lots of wood, iron and brick. The center bar is wrapped in riveted copper. Leather couches and chairs furnish two lounge areas at each end of the first floor.

The groupings of lounge, four-person “community tables,” and bar seating provide a more intimate feel for smaller groups. (Other than the karaoke rooms, there are no totally private spaces.) The community tables are on wheels so they can be moved and configured as needed. And, Utterback said, “We have security to make sure no one crashes the party.”

Worth the price
“When planning events, we have worked within the event packages, which offer a nice range of options,” said Sarah Chiodini, World Wide Technology corporate marketing manager. “It can be a little pricey. The menu includes high-end beverages and appetizers and the quality of food is worth the price.” World Wide hosts an average of three events per week for groups of between 6-50 people, Chiodini said. She calls Bar Manager Kyle Mathis often greets guests at large corporate events with his signature punch concoction made with gin, Canadian whiskey, grapefruit liqueur, lemon juice, and sweet vermouth. Clients rave about the food-small plates and finger foods that can be eaten while standing up and playing games, Utterback said. Menu items include lobster ravioli, barbacoa tacos, and pizza with locally sourced ingredients. Smoked chicken wings and burnt-end nachos are favorites, according to Utterback (and backed up by online reviews).

Package prices range from a $45 per person food and beverage minimum, to $90 per person for a three-hour premium
open bar with a two-hour, eightmenu-item food service. Westport Social the “perfect spot to host a happy hour after work or to end the evening with some games after dinner.”

All games are free except the two karaoke rooms, which rent for $40 per hour. Housed on the second floor overlooking
the game floor, each has a small lounge area outside the room with a wall-sized mural to provide musical motivation—John
Lennon in one room and Michael Jackson in the other. Each room holds 30 people; opening a partition creates space for 60.

Let your hair down
Karaoke is popular for team competitions, Utterback said. In fact, Katie Johnson, a territory sales manager for
Colonial Life, planned one for her second event at Westport Social. Sales people from two states were coming together
for a team training and prospecting competition. The last-place team had to sing a karaoke song of the winning team’s choosing, Johnson said.

Johnson hosted her first event following a quarterly leadership meeting. “It was a blast,” Johnson said. “It had the
perfect feel for what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted people to have fun, let their hair down.”

Working with Utterback to arrange events has been “super super easy,” Johnson  said. “The servers were great-they
really connected with our team. We had a very positive experience all the way around.” As long as that trend continues,
Johnson said, she’ll be back.

Her advice for corporate meeting planners? “If you want something relaxed and connected and fun then it’s a perfect place for it.”

MM&E

Stacy Ross is a contributing writer from St. Louis, Mo.

CONTACT INFORMATION:
Jessica Utterback
910 W Port Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63146
Phone: (314) 548-2876
www.westportsocial-stl.com
www.facebook.com/westportsocial
@WestportSocial

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.