Timing and preparation are everything for DoubleTapKC as the virtual reality arcade and pub prepares to unleash a new experience in the River Market — one its owners say is a perfect release for COVID-wary Kansas Citians eager to reconnect.
“To be quite honest with you, I feel really blessed,” co-founder Terry Keith said, reflecting on the two-year journey to open DoubleTapKC, which is set to officially debut Monday with a formal grand opening celebration June 20.
“[We asked ourselves,] ‘Is there anything like what we have?’ and the answer is no. Not in the three-state area,” he added, noting rivals exist but none that serve up an all-in-one VR gaming and social atmosphere like DoubleTap. The 5,000-square-foot space, which features seven gaming lanes for small groups, as well as room for individual players, offers a full bar and lounge seating.
A family and friends soft opening of DoubleTap is planned for Saturday.
Click here to reserve a lane at DoubleTap.
Nine beers are expected on tap, including those from KC Bier Co. and Boulevard. Local spirits used in DoubleTap’s cocktails will include J. Rieger, Mean Mule Distilling Co., and Tom’s Town among a growing list.
“I’m born and raised in Kansas City and I just have a love for this city and I want to support as many local businesses as possible — because a lot of these people are going to support me as well,” Keith said.
The company also expects to heavily partner with Strange Days Brewing Co., located immediately next door within the shared historic building that once housed the Muehlebach Brewing Company, Keith said.
“Those guys are awesome. We’ve really got to know them over the past few months,” he said. “We’re going to work really well together.”
Originally slated for launch in February, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic upset plans for the gaming lounge and set construction back considerably, Keith explained.
“We had to space out the contractors because none of them would come in at the same time,” he laughed. “That delayed it a little bit, but we’re happy to get across the bridge finally.”
While the pandemic might have delayed DoubleTap’s opening, don’t expect it to negatively impact the guest experience, Keith said, noting the layout of the building and its spacious gaming lanes were laid out with social distancing in mind well before it was a national guideline.
“When I talked to the health department, [each lane counts as] a separate room, so it didn’t affect my capacity,” Keith said, detailing the layout of DoubleTap which also includes single gamer lanes and a party room — all of which are separated by curtains and are spaced at least 10 feet apart to avoid technology interference.
“I know COVID is a big concern with people. We have these coverings that cover your whole face and there’s just an opening for your eyes, and then you put the headset on,” he said of ways DoubleTap will offer its own form of personal protective equipment to guests using shared devices.
“It’s another barrier between you and another customer,” Keith continued. ‘We’ve got to sanitize the headsets and wipe them down after each use, we’re also wiping them down again in front of you after we sit you down. We’re really trying to make the customer feel as comfortable as possible.”
Keith’s passion for local entrepreneurship runs deep. He holds a degree in entrepreneurship and business management from the University of Central Missouri and has spent the past seven years working in healthcare IT at Cerner — the Kansas City legacy company that inspired him to try his hand at owning his own business.
“I already knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur anyway, but at some point [in the onboarding process] they talked about the story of how Cerner came to be, with the original founders,” he said. “That always kind of resonated with me. I hope to be a Cerner someday, but if not, I’m OK with it.”
With Keith now juggling two careers, the staff at DoubleTap — which includes Eddie Reese, operations manager — will help fill the gaps, he added, noting he has no plans to leave Cerner despite the launch of the gaming facility.
“This is a nights and weekends thing, which is beautiful.”