Allison Brown, formerly of the Elbow Room, is the general manager of Round Table Clubhouse, a new concept for the pizza chain. Photos by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
The Round Table Pizza restaurant that opened just over a year ago in north Fresno is differing from the other three in the city, as well as from most restaurants in the chain.
First, there’s the name of the restaurant near Bullard Avenue and First Street, “Round Table Clubhouse,” which the pizza chain has adopted in recent years at a handful of its restaurants around the country, as they’re somewhat different from the rest of the Round Tables.
Those differences are visible right away, as the restaurant in the Hoover Plaza opted for an urban chic style, as other restaurant chains from Outback Steakhouse to Taco Bell have begun adopting.
While other Round Tables often serve beer and wine, the owners of the Fresno Clubhouse restaurant have forgone a bar, and instead have a “tap wall” at one end of the dining room.
“We have 20 beers on tap and four wines on tap,” said Allison Brown, the Clubhouse’s general manager.
“We sell it by the ounce, and it’s controlled by pours,” she said.
Customers get wristbands that allow them to access the taps, and digital software tracks how much beer or wine they pour.
“It’s basically like opening a tab at a bar. You scan your ID, we hold your credit card and you’re able to try as much or as little as you like,” Brown explained.
The restaurant also has two meeting and party rooms, compared to the single room commonly found at most Round Tables, and it has an arcade room with 22 video games, instead of the two to five most of the other restaurants have.
In fact, the restaurant is about 6,700 square feet, twice the room it had when it was a standard Round Table before moving from its old location for 30 years across the street.
With all the differences, Brown said the biggest one is the Clubhouse’s menu.
“This store came about because they wanted to expand their product. We offer way more than pizza. We have burgers, we have sandwiches, we have salads, we have Ulti Wings,” fried chicken wings that are coated with sauce or dry rub, along with the baked wings that are the only kind standard Round Tables offer because they don’t have deep fryers, Brown said.
Other foods not found at other restaurants in the chain include onion rings, mozzarella sticks, sliders, flat bread pizzas, signature salads and a wedge salad, the latter three resulting from customers wanting healthier food alternatives.
“We serve a really high-grade food product. If you are not in the mood for pizza, we have an amazing blue cheese burger, we have an amazing mushroom burger, we have an amazing smokehouse burger. We offer different chicken [and] artichoke sandwiches, Italian meat sandwiches,” Brown said.
How the food is served is also different. During dinner services, the Clubhouse has waiters and waitresses take orders and serve meals, though customers in a hurry still can order at the front counter, said Brown, who was brought in just before the closure of the old restaurant in part because of her experience as a manager at Fresno’s Elbow Room restaurant.
The Clubhouse is one of 20 Round Tables from Los Angeles to Atwater — including all four in Fresno — owned by Van Nuys-based Perrian Management. Brown said only two of them are Clubhouse restaurants, though the one in Atwater is more of a “mini Clubhouse” as it’s only about half the size of the Fresno one.
Brown said the change has been a success, with the number of customers doubling compared to before the business moved in February 2018.
Besides the move, the new menu and the tap wall, she credited part of the increase to stepped-up efforts to have the Clubhouse host meetings and parties, along with charitable and community events.
“We do a lot of tap takeovers, bringing in local breweries, so they can roll out their new lines of beer products,” she added.
Also helping has been the installation of 18 large-screen televisions throughout the dining area on which customers can watch sports.
While many of these changes seem geared to bringing in more adults, Brown said the goal actually is to keep the place family oriented, so people sampling beers can comfortably sit near families enjoying their meals.
“It’s a place where mom and dad come to watch football, the kids play in the arcade and, you know, just have a good time here.”