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These adult mini-golf bars have some of the hottest tee times in Philadelphia

Erin McCarthy, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

PHILADELPHIA — When Puttshack opens as a Center City spot for drinks, food, and mini golf this weekend, it’ll be the second business of its kind in about a two-mile radius.

In Philadelphia, and around the country, mini golf isn’t just for kids anymore. Adults are loving it, too.

It’s a plan for a Sunday Funday out with friends, local consumers said, and a built-in icebreaker on a first date. For the growing number of young people who are drinking less, it’s also a social nighttime activity that doesn’t have to revolve around alcohol, making it a welcome third-place, which has become more rare in the city.

While the “bar” part of these establishments is undoubtedly a draw for many customers — and a moneymaker for business owners — putting with a beer, cocktail, or other libation (including zero-proof options) in hand is optional, as is enjoying an après-mini-golf drink or snack in attached lounges and dining rooms.

At Libertee Grounds in Francisville, Priyank “Pri” Rambhia and his co-owners — his longtime friends Sanil Shah and Kanay Patel — have seen the popularity of adult-centric, indoor mini golf explode since they opened in 2021. A couple years ago, he said, they would log more than 300 customers on a good day. Earlier this month, they set a record when they saw 535 customers on a Saturday, their busiest day of the week.

Those are all adults, too. At Libertee Grounds, only people 21 and older can play mini golf, which costs $10 a person, or enjoy the other indoor spaces. On Sunday during the day, the business welcomes golfers of all ages (with adult supervision).

 

Libertee Grounds’ adults-only decision was made intentionally and caters to its customer base, which Rambhia said has a median age somewhere in the late 20s/early 30s range. They come for the mini golf, he said, but also for the “hyperlocal” beer (read: only craft beers brewed in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey), the atmosphere, and a sizable food menu with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

“You’re more so going to a bar with mini golf,” Rambhia said. By not allowing kids on most days, “it allows us to be more of an adult playground.”

Puttshack, which is set to open its first Philadelphia location Saturday at the Shops at Liberty Place, becomes 21+ at 8 p.m. The fast-growing chain of “upscale tech-infused mini-golf” venues will offer nine-hole mini golf for $14 a person, plus a food and drink menu that promises to take customers on “a culinary journey of global flavors.”

Rambhia said he welcomes the opening of Puttshack: “There is definitely room for both businesses to exist and do really well. The whole mini-golf concept is so accessible.”

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