Star Lanes Polaris
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Star Lanes Polaris

Boutique alley offers much more than bowling


Bowling used to be an activity all its own with not much else to spare. You’d show up to an alley ready to bowl, request your clown-like shoes, select a black ball, maybe order some nachos and a Coke, and then desperately try to break a score of 100.

But “boutique” bowling alleys, such as Star Lanes Polaris in Columbus, have changed the notion of traditional bowing and transformed alleys into playful destinations with new entertainment options and full-service restaurants.

Star Lanes, which opened in 2012, is a 35,000 square-foot fun center located near Polaris Fashion Place at 8655 Lyra Dr. What makes it a boutique alley is that the space designated to bowling is relatively small compared to the rest of the venue – just 20 lanes.

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You also won’t find a snack counter here. Instead, the Point Bar & Grill offers made-from-scratch meals including skewered coconut shrimp, grilled veggie tacos with fresh guacamole, and an assortment of craft beers and wines by the glass.

The kid’s menu includes classics such as cheese pizza, quesadillas, mac and cheese, and chicken bites, as well as a roasted turkey sandwich and a Caesar salad. (On Wednesday nights, kids eat free with the purchase of a regular-priced adult meal.)

Along with a sit-down restaurant, meals can be served alongside your alley, outfitted with comfortable couches and a selection of colorful bowling balls. Keeping score is kitschy, too, as you can reset the monitor theme and program gutter bumpers to seamlessly pop up and down in between turns.

Star Lanes also offers an upscale lounge with billiards tables and a DJ booth. Plus it has an arcade, where players can win e-tickets redeemable for an assortment of prizes. There’s even space for private parties.

For more information, visit www.starlanespolaris.com or call 614-468-4830.

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Dave & Buster’s

Watch football while kids play games of skill for prizes


While thinking of a place to watch an Ohio State football game with our young children, my husband and I decided to visit Dave & Buster’s at Polaris Fashion Place, 1554 Polaris Parkway. The restaurant seemed like a good fit for the four of us. It offered a sports bar with big-screen TVs for dad and a bustling arcade with more than 200 games for mom and the kids.

I figured, though, that we wouldn’t be the first ones in this football-crazed city to come up with the idea, especially on a rain-soaked Saturday. But, likely because the Buckeyes were playing in Columbus, the place was far from packed.

There are two Dave & Buster’s locations in central Ohio and more than 60 across the United States. The chain was founded in 1982 in Dallas by two friends, not surprisingly, named Dave and Buster. Earlier in their careers the two owned side-by-side businesses that attracted the same clientele. Buster ran a casual eatery, and Dave ran an arcade. Why not include both experiences under one roof, they thought.

The restaurant contains three areas: a dining room, sports bar and game room. We ate lunch first while watching the Buckeyes take on the Florida A&M Rattlers. Some of the wall-mounted, flat-screen screen TVs were as wide as 180 inches.

The menu is described as “fun gourmet,” which boils down to traditional American dishes with some twists, such as a side of sweet-potato fries instead of French fries. The kids menu offers some interesting choices, too, such as linguine, Caesar salad and doughnut holes for dessert.

Our kids, though, could hardly keep still during lunch thinking about the flashing and buzzing games in the room around the corner.

We paid for our lunch and ordered Power Cards, one $10 card for each child that totaled $24 with a charge-up fee. Cards can be kept and used again later.

The usage went fast – about 15 minutes of play per each card. The best deals were the ones that spit out tickets that could be used to redeem prizes in the Winner’s Circle. These included several Skeeball-like games and another game with piles of shiny gold coins that you tried to shove over the edge to win tickets.

In no time I was putting $10 more on each card to appease my ticket-hungry children, who were now collecting coils of them in plastic buckets, casino style.

We turned in all their tickets to be weighed, and they totaled about 750 points. The prize room was filled with kid-drooling prizes such as remote-controlled cars and Hello Kitty and Angry Bird toys. Top-shelf items included XBOX games, iPads and an electric guitar with amplifier. “Who earns enough points to claim these?” I thought.

Our loot included two strawberry suckers with laser lights, two neon-colored bracelets and a package of gummy bears. We also got to enjoy OSU’s 76-0 victory over the Rattlers, allowing us to head home full and satisfied.

For more information, visit www.daveandbusters.com.

Sweet & Sassy

Embrace inner diva at glittery salon


Sweet and Sassy is a colorful salon and spa at Polaris Fashion Place in Columbus, where princess-loving preschoolers and precocious preteens go to get pampered. The franchise is established throughout the United States, but the Polaris store is the only location in Ohio.

I recently took my 5-year-old daughter there to get a breezy haircut and a nail polish application. But little did I know how much fun she’d have getting all dolled up and how much I’d appreciate our “girl time” afterward, eating lunch in a booth for two at the nearby Cheesecake Factory and splashing in the mall’s outdoor fountain.

The salon’s services include haircuts and styles for girls and boys, manicures, pedicures and ear piercing. Its retail space offers cheeky merchandise such as peace sign-covered backpacks, big-eyed stuffed animals and bottles of chocolate shampoo. Customers also can concoct their own lip-glosses and glittery lotions.

Rosie got a “Sassy Cut,” which included a fruit-scented shampooing, haircut and a modified French braid that wrapped around her head and ended in a tasseled tail. I was pleased to see the stylist, dressed sleekly in pink and black, engaged in a conversation with Rosie and not me, her doting mom. “You’re going to love it,” she told Rosie, beaming.

I stepped aside to allow Rosie some privacy.

I watched a half dozen giggling girls enter the salon for a birthday party in an area labeled “Glam Central.” They put on sequined dresses and sat in tall chairs before a wall-length mirror. Their hair was arranged in an array of up-dos, and stylists applied makeup to their fresh faces. As a finale, they sashayed down a makeshift catwalk to loud music.

“I want to go on stage,” delighted Rosie, as her stylist sprayed cupcake-scented hairspray on her new braid.

After a quick application of purple nail polish, Rosie pranced on stage like the star of the show. Purple polish and cupcake hairspray? What’s not to like?

Sweet and Sassy is located at Polaris Fashion Place at 1540 Polaris Parkway. For more information, visit sweetandsassy.com.