I finally went to Quawtaz! That’s how us NOLA natives say “Quarters.” This is the third installment of my “Javan Does Baton Rouge” series, and in this one, I’m taking you to Baton Rouge’s very own, Quarters.
Many cities in America have similar entertainment complexes like this, including the national chain Dave & Buster’s. I’ve always wanted to go there ever since I was little and always wondered when or if D&B would come to Louisiana. A few months ago, I had a conversation with a coworker and she said that they have a place here in Baton Rouge called Quarters that just opened.
“They have bowling, I think pool tables, an arcade and they have the, uh, the laser tag, too.” Where is it? “On Coursey and Sherwood [Forest].” Wait, what?? That empty grocery store building that’s been blank for as long as I’ve been here? Has it really been that long since I’ve driven past that area, because I could have sworn that building was still empty. This was back in March and I was clearly far out of the loop. My coworker hadn’t been there yet, but she heard about it through the grapevine. Knowing this, best believe I looked it up as soon as I got home from work that night, and by the pictures alone, Quarters reminded me of those venues you see in places like New Orleans, Atlanta, Los Angeles or even New York! I learned more by watching a local MySceneTV interview with the co-founder of Quarters, Ryan Curtis, as well as YouTube videos from Baton Rouge local Rodney Dunn. It was my interest in the venue that gave me the idea to create this blog series, so I knew I had to get over there as soon as possible.
I finally made it to Quarters on June 12, last Wednesday, with a friend of mine. For my own personal reasons, I have been avoiding crowds as a whole, so I chose to go around 1pm when I knew that the traffic there would be minimal. Upon walking in, we were greeted with a large poster of rules and regulations. From there, we walked toward the front desk in which someone, who was probably a front-end manager or host, asked us whether or not we’ve been helped. I wasn’t expecting that and it gave me an even better impression of the place. The night before, I made the decision to go with one of their Winner’s Choice two-fer packages (two to three selections for a certain price), so when we got there, my friend and I opted for an hour of bowling and one session of laser tag. The total was $40, including shoe rental. The male cashier gave us our shoes and we headed over to lane three.
The front desk surrounds a pillar of toys with points-costs that are basically a steal compared to Celebration Station or Chuck E. Cheese’s, according to my goddaughter who had a field trip there with Broadmoor Middle during her last days of school. Behind the desk is a large open floor of some of the hottest arcade games including a life-sized Connect 4 (one of my new favorites from my latest trip to Celebration Station), Deal or No Deal, Temple Run, and the legendary Pac-Man and its related games. Other games commonly found in arcades such as basketball stalls and fortune wheels were also front and center.
I have a sentimental history with bowling, as it’s a memory of my grandfather who was on a league in the 1950s. Despite remembering the stances he taught me, I’m still have horrible aim, and to add insult to injury, my friend was on the bowling team at EBR Lab. Like clockwork, I lost all three games. Nonetheless, I thoroughly examined the ten bowling lanes. They are highlighted by large projection screens, which are used during the late afternoon hours. Each lane also has its own camera that airs an instant replay on the overhead scoreboard after each bowl. In between the arcade and bowling alley is the billiards area, consisting of three or four pool tables. Curtains and half-walls are used as partitions, so many onlookers, including daycare students on an outing, looked on as we and two other parties set fire to the lanes. The players’ seating area also featured glass tables made of bowling pins, which rival some of the creations seen on Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators.
My friend and I decided to take a break and grab a bite to eat, so we headed to the opposite side of the building to the restaurant, 25. We looked at the menu, but we noticed that no one was in there eating. A chef came out and told us that the food, at this time, was ordered at the bar, directly behind the bowling alley. The whole time, I saw the fast-moving servers delivering meals to that area, but I never really gave it thought, so now it made sense. We decided to grab a seat at the bar, and a woman named Rae, whose service was beyond excellent, waited us on.
The menu has something to offer any and every palate, including local Louisiana cuisine, and since I’m a picky eater, I chose something familiar. My order was called the Norwegian, which was sautéed salmon with snap beans and red potatoes. From what I can recall, it was the exact same meal that was cooked on the Channel 9 news when Quarters was the featured for the local businesses segment. My friend ordered the infamous Quarters Burger that my goddaughter told me about. I should also mention that they offer food and game combos, as well as specials for Happy Hour, which spans from 5 to 8pm on weekdays.
After a few minutes of sipping cold drinks, random chit-chat and getting heavily enticed by the wall of liquor, our food came. “Just to let you know, when they call those ‘snap beans,’ they snap. I mean, they snap—they’re the real thing,” Rae added. Trust me what I say that she was not lying. These had to have been some of the best snap beans I have ever tasted, as well as the potatoes! However, it was the giant block of salmon that put the icing on the cake. As for the Quarters Burger, my friend nearly faked a coma because it was just that good! The burger was served with fries on a triangular rack, something he said he would love to buy somewhere for his future house.
While eating, Mr. Curtis paid a visit to the bar. I had seen him walking about and
checking on the different stations the whole time. I always like seeing the faces behind local businesses, and such a presence gives us patrons an air of stability when it comes to management’s relationships with the staff, as heavily explained on Bravo’s Tabatha Takes Over. Rae dimmed the lights over the bar. “It looks just like the pictures!” I’m sorry, but I couldn’t hold that in. All in all, it took us a while to finish our food because it was just that much, and while I finished mine, minus a few potato wedges, my friend was given a to-go box. We were also given Styrofoam cups to take our drinks. At this point, Rae had gone on break, so a different server rang us up and held our food for us. My order was $17 and my friend’s was $10, totaling to $38.08 before the tip. Next stop: laser tag.
Laser Tag is housed towards the back of the building, behind the arcade. There was a small mix-up within the computer system setup, but how it works is that you register a game card at the front desk, then you swipe it at one of the four computer kiosks nearby. Onscreen, you’re assigned a nickname as a means of identification during the game. There was a family of about eight (four adults and four kids) playing along with my friend and I, and we were all brought to a dark room to watch the instruction video. From there, the attendant, a man with dreadlocks, called off our nicknames and told us which vests and lasers to get. Mine was number five.
Once we got our stuff, we, the red team of adults, were called in first. He explained that once our vest says to return to the charging station, we’re to simply walk past the tower and we’re instantly charged. Within our command posts, there are two taller towers with point values and some sort of receiver. As long as any of us are in that chamber, the opposing team can shoot at the receivers, which goes against our total score. After this, he did the same for the green team, which included my friend and a swarm of little kids. I’ll let you go ahead and predict right now how the game turned out…
One session consists of four games, with a minute or two-minute break in between. Like most, if not all laser tag arenas, this one was two stories, but it clearly had more nooks and crannies than I have ever seen! It reminded me of the old Aliens game form Super Nintendo, and I might be showing a little age by referencing that. Our team alternated with who was going to play lookout and who was going to go find the others, and we got creamed in all but the last round. “They keep coming!” That’s all I keep repeating to myself as I schlepped my tired, winded ass up those steep ramps! Yes, those ramps—they can’t be avoided. I remember at one point that I was downstairs and found what I thought was a secret passage similar to the cage at Laser Tag down the street. All of a sudden, I gradually felt myself going upward. “Crap! Another ramp!” This was probably the third round, and I then see this big swarm of green LEDs, four-and-a-half feet off the ground, flying down at me! “They keep coming!” All in all, the kids won while the grown folks lost. Damn. Well, to make it better, my friend and I consistently got the lowest scores of our respective teams. Oops! I left out of there feeling like I had just finished a cardio session. Nonetheless, I walked away from it with two major tenets: thou shall not wear jeans, and thou shall not wear all dark clothes because you will feel it sooner rather than later.
Now that it was over, I high-fived my friend and we checked out the arcade. Like I said earlier, I had to look for the Pac-Man game that Quarters told me about on Twitter. See, I got into a conversation with one of my followers, saying our what-ifs as far as the possibility of a Pac-Man machine, and surely enough:
Unlimited laser tag and bowling all day Monday! Only $25.00.
— Quarters (@QuartersBR) May 25, 2013
— AnnMarie (@FolkToe) May 26, 2013
— Javan H. (@JJLucasH) May 26, 2013
— AnnMarie (@FolkToe) May 26, 2013
— Quarters (@QuartersBR) May 26, 2013
— Javan H. (@JJLucasH) May 26, 2013
Having seen and done all that I wanted to for the day, my friend and I got our food, said ‘bye’ to Rae and left Quarters with our heads spinning. “I know where I’ll be having my birthday party,” said my friend, and as soon as I got home, I saw that he changed the venue of his party’s Facebook post to Quarters. Great choice, friend. Great choice.
Now that you’ve hopefully read all of the above, let’s break it down.
The pictures on the website have the facility as dark and glitzy, but it only takes common sense to know that it wouldn’t be like that during the day, especially a weekday, when there are kids, families and minimal amounts of traffic. The building as a whole is grey with modern, colorful furniture and curtain partitions. The walls of the arcade and restaurant are also painted with graffiti that reads, “Quarters,” and “win” among other things, all of which suits the actual environment. Final verdict: excellent.
Quarters is set up in such a way that everything is in plain sight. Beyond the front desk, the arcade serves as the centerpiece with 25 Restaurant and the afterhours club area to the left, and the billiards room, the bowling alley and the bar to the right. No need for a walkthrough, no need for Google Maps. Final verdict: excellent.
This is too easy. Final verdict: excellent.
Not only did either or manager or a host greet us, but also I always saw at least one worker in my field of view. Food orders were heard loud and clear over the intercom, and the bar and restaurant staffs were beyond personable and attentive. Despite the computer glitch, we were able to play our game of laser tag without problems and everything went smoothly. Happy management, happy staff perhaps? Final verdict: great.
My original plan was to go to Red Zeppelin pizza as a means of bagging two blog subjects in one day, but then reality set in—why not go all the way? Rae said that it’s definitely not bowling alley food, and it sure in the hell wasn’t. For the cost, you’d be a fool to pass any of it up. The menu is pretty robust with many drink specials and food/game combos to choose from. I don’t see any conceivable way for any of you readers not to find something that suits your needs. Final verdict: excellent.
Every selection has different packages to choose from, but for the most part, bowling varies from $3.50 per game/person during the weekday to $30 per hour/party on weekend evenings, plus shoe rental. Laser tag is $16 for one four-game session and each player must be at least 42”, or 3’6” tall, to play. Arcade games are played through the use of the Winners Card, which is a sort of debit card that doesn’t expire, rather than using bulky tokens. You can load any amount of money onto it. The pool tables run between $8 per hour/table during the weekday to $14 on weekend evenings, and a complete breakdown of pricing is found on quartersbr.com, as well as countless gaming combos and party options.
The pricing of everything seems better than the local competition, especially when you consider the fact that for every option, there’s a promo that includes one or two others which total to a cheaper individual price, allowing you to get your money’s worth even further. There also countless other specials that include student discounts and a ladies’ night, in addition to birthday and corporate event packages. Final verdict: fair and practical.
Quarters gets an easy A+, but the casual reader, especially one who’s already familiar with Quarters, might ask why I chose not to go after 6pm or later when the bar and Vegas club are open. Well, I don’t do crowds and I tend to shy away from situations where there might be a lot of people. That doesn’t mean I can’t bring a fair and accurate anecdote of my time there. Until next time, when my goddaughter and I come back together with the rest of the family, I’ll close this entry saying that you need to get yourself to Quarters as soon as possible, by any means necessary, to eat…drink…play…and win. It’s endless entertainment.
I’m currently in the process of launching my fourth shuttle, and I’m also putting the final touches on my cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.” Feel free to check out the rest of my work on this site, as well as on Twitter, YouTube and Soundcloud. Toodaloo.