If you half feel like you’ve heard of Big Al’s before, and half feel like it’s completely unknown to you, then you’re probably right on both counts: To date, there are only 5 Big Al’s locations in the United States, yet the franchise has the tone, vibe, and confidence of a major leaguer. The first-ever Big Al’s was opened in Vancouver, Washington, then followed by others in Beaverton, Oregon; Meridian, Idaho; and Ontario, California.
On May 6, 2019, at 11AM, the 5th-ever Big Al’s location opened here in Milpitas (the 2nd in California and the 1st in Northern California).
The point of Big Al’s is to party and have fun. Whether you’re celebrating your 100th birthday or you just crawled out of the womb, Big Al’s has got you covered. No, seriously: I asked the marketing department about their target age range, and they pretty much shrugged and said that if you’re human, then they’re prepared to give you a good time:
“There’s something for everyone here,” said Big Al’s Senior Marketing Manager Shaina Page. who was in from the company’s Vancouver home office for the grand opening. Page also noted that alcohol is served, and cited the customer age range as being “Zero to hundred. Two hundred — if you can live to 200. Literally, there’s something to eat for everyone, there’s something to do for everyone. All ages.”
“The whole Bay Area’s a huge market,” added Marketing Associate Jon Rivard. “Especially in Milpitas, people are looking around for something fun to do. Family fun, entertainment — this provides that. There’s nothing else really around here that’s quite like this.”
When you walk in, it’s a long throw to the check-in counter, to the left of which is a sparkling bank of arcade games, and behind which is an expansive bar area. Behind the bar, in the back, is more dining seating, ringed in by bright, thrumming mounted TV screens. With the NBA playoffs in full swing, people looking for a widescreen, high-definition view of the games would do well to give Big Al’s a shot.
Meanwhile, if bowling’s your thing, then Big Al’s has got you covered in that regard, as well.
In general, said Page, “We want to be the place where people come to make memories, build memories, traditions. All that good stuff.”
In addition, the Milpitas location is the very first where people can benefit from a new Big Al’s program. Said Rivard, “We just kicked off our MVP program…You load up your card, you get to a certain amount of points, we can give you special rewards, bonuses, as being an MVP guest for us. So that promotion kicked off here today. It’s a company-wide promotion, but it’s kicking off here.”
As for the burning question — Who’s Big Al? — well, that detail was a little harder to discern. Big Al himself was walking around the grand opening, and appeared to be a gorilla of some kind, but in this reporter’s humble opinion, I don’t really think he’s responsible for running the joint.
27 Ranch Drive
Milpitas, CA 95035