Gutter Point Patio combines backyard with brews
Only open for five months at full capacity before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, co-owner of Wayward Social Aaron Buzbee said he still isn’t quite sure what his new business venture is capable of.
“Right before COVID hit, we were seeing just amazing business,” he said. “It was the first time we saw a good trajectory of what this place can do.”
However, Buzbee said he’s excited for the future and sees Wayward Social as an opportunity in Marshalltown.
The bowling alley plus restaurant, bar and arcade expanded amid the pandemic. Last fall they opened Gutter Point, an outdoor patio complete with a beer garden, bocce ball court and shuffleboard court.
“We thought it’s really fun to have a lot of outdoor games and activities, like an extension of a backyard, but with a fully stocked bar,” Buzbee said.
He said bowling alleys across the country are thriving, but with a little bit different look. Now becoming more food and beverage centric with more activities, Buzbee believes the younger generation coming of drinking age is showing a trend in what they want in a bar.
“A lot of them aren’t necessarily looking to just go out and sit in a bar somewhere and have a cocktail,” Buzbee said. “There’s still that demand, but I think the younger generation is looking for activities to do while they socialize and while they have adult beverages, so Wayward is kind of the perfect marriage of that.”
Since opening Gutter Point, he said there has not been the same drop off in activity which typically occurs in the summer and spring. With September through March being peak season, he’s seen more groups come out since April to play games or have a cold beer outside.
Wayward Social Hospitality Manager Julie Propp said she has seen groups from outside Marshalltown find their way over.
“It’s always crazy to me that we get people from Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, wherever, but then we have people come in from Marshalltown and they have no idea how this place has changed and what we offer,” Propp said.
Buzbee said he likes to hear compliments when people are surprised Marshalltown has something like Wayward Social, but said in a way it’s a backhanded compliment.
“Why wouldn’t Marshalltown have something cool like this? Marshalltown is a cool community,” he said. “But you have to have a couple people take some risks to bring these kinds of businesses to communities and we’re seeing a lot more of that.”
He said a mentor of his sold him on moving back to Marshalltown after he had moved to Des Moines for work and school.
“He told me that Marshalltown is essentially one tenth of the size of Des Moines, so why can’t we have one tenth of the cool things Des Moines has,” Buzbee said. “That kind of stuck with me and I thought that’s right. We can have a variety of businesses that I think can all thrive. We have a lot of assets here in Marshalltown, we don’t need to drive an hour to go to Des Moines when we have these assets right here. I think Marshalltown can support quite a bit more. I think our trends with housing and all the stuff we’re doing, I think we’re going to grow and I think we’re going to see a lot more business investment here in town.”
The Gutter Point patio is still a work in progress, with plans to add more games and a stage for live music.
Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.