The Full Circle Bar-Austin is located on 12th street, just a ten minute drive from downtown, and it’s the ultimate destination for Skee-Ball enthusiasts and rollers. It features six competition level Skee-Ball alleys, craft beer, a tater tot concession, a fun atmosphere and great rolling. That’s no coincidence.
Overhead is a huge sign that proclaims, “I Believe In Yourself.”
The bar is co-owned by Eric Pavony (we recently profiled Eric here), who also co-owns the original Full Circle Bar in Brooklyn, NY. Eric is the Skee-E-O of the Brewskee-Ball League, which has teams of competitive Skee-Ball players all over the US. Both Full Circle bars were opened with the express intention of providing a super-friendly place to play competitive Skee-Ball, and to have a great time just rolling with your friends.
While there are currently Brewskee-Ball teams in Austin, Brooklyn, NY, Gainesville, FL, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA (currently on hiatus), San Francisco, CA and Wilmington, NC, the Austin location boasts some of the most impressive rollers in the league, and it’s due in part to having a home venue with its entire focus on Skee-Ball.
I was fortunate enough to arrive there in time for the Skeeson 25 Championship of Brewskee-Ball league play. When I found the place, I was first struck by the fact that the bar is located in a modest, salmon-pink, Spanish style building, sandwiched in between other bars and eateries on an unpretentious neighborhood street. At sunset, the light plays off the building creating a soft glow. But the simple, modest exterior is deceptive.
As soon as you step inside, this place screams Skee-Ball, from the redemption tickets that outline the door, to the ginormous teddy bear and other boardwalk prizes high on a shelf near the patio doors, and Brewskee-Ball memorabilia hanging on the walls.
Overhead is a huge sign that proclaims, “I Believe In Yourself.” Eric explained that this is what teammate Wayne Holley told him, to give him inspiration when Eric was having a difficult time scoring in a game they were playing together. It worked. Eric says, “It has now become a phrase used to encourage and inspire people in the league, not just while playing Skee-Ball, but while overcoming any of life’s challenges.” Now, the quote is emblazoned at ceiling level to inspire everyone who plays at Full Circle Bar. It’s also a great conversation starter.
Just beyond the sign is the bank of six Skee-Ball alleys, with two large displays that show the scores during competition play. The alleys take up a substantial part of the bar. In front of the alleys are tables for people to sit and watch competition or casual play, or just hang out and talk.
To the right is a long bar with a friendly bartender and a a fine selection of lovely beverages. The bar features local craft beers as well as retro cocktails. I ordered a local IPA that was delightful. So were the tater tots, a concession that’s a specialty of the house. After getting my beer, I settled in to watch the competition. I’ve never seen Skee-Ball played at this level: Rollers routinely calling a particular score, and then rolling it, or calling and rolling repeated 40s, 50s, or hundos. These players take performance rolling to a new level. The mood of the crowd started off noisily enthusiastic, and by the end of the night, it was so intense that everyone was on their feet to see the last frame of the competition. In the end, the Full Circle Jerks team took the win. Puns are a big part of of the Brewskee-Ball League tradition.
Later, I took to the lanes while the real rollers were out back relaxing. After rolling a 360, a very respectable score, I decided to go out on a high note and called it a night for rolling.
I wandered out back to the patio, where you can enjoy your beverage in the warm Texas evening, and play some outdoor games if you choose. It’s a welcoming space where you’ll also find them hosting informal talks and social events.
Full Circle Bar is a great place for Skee-Ball enthusiasts and rollers alike. With its terrific selection of beers and cocktails, you’re sure to find something tasty and cool to enjoy in the open and friendly atmosphere. I highly recommend this place.
About the author:
Thaddeus Cooper is the co-author of Seeking Redemption: The Real Story of the Beautiful Game of Skee-Ball, a deep dive into the history of the game. You can find more information about Thaddeus, and his co-author, and their book, at: http://www.nomoreboxes.com/.