It seems that downtown Danville River District now has what it badly needed and certainly wanted: an East Coast-style bar with great food, top-shelf drinks, and plenty of exciting computer games.
The new “joint” is called Funky’s Arcade Bar and is located at 315 Lynn St., right next to the old Smith Seeds building, which now houses lofts. The location is several blocks west of bustling Craghead Street and blends in nicely with the rest of the booming downtown area.
Funky’s is owned by husband and wife team, John and Cristina Grothe, who also own the sensational new ‘wing’, 716 Wings, on Piney Forest Road. (716 is the area code for Buffalo, New York).
If there is to be any qualification on the East Coast roots of their restaurants, Cristina is from Buffalo, New York, and John was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. It’s about the east coast as possible.
“We opened 716 Wings on January 23, 2019, and our menu items differ from other restaurants: our wings are fresh, never frozen, and sourced from local farms. Our wings are not breaded and many of our recipes come from Buffalo, New York, where I’m from,” says Cristina.
“We make all our sauces ourselves. Many of them have a base that we start with and tweak our ingredients to go from there. Everything we have here is freshly made and that includes our pizza dough,” she adds.
Their choice of location for Funky’s was all about timing and opened in December 2021. Grothe’s were looking for a building that could accommodate a large bar/restaurant. In Danville, bars, in themselves, are not allowed so the Grothes had to make Funky’s, “a restaurant above all” and the bar is the second part. The arcade part of it is the third block of the business model.
“We have a full liquor license, but you can’t just have a bar. A certain part of your recipes has to be food-related and the food has to be prepared on the spot,” says Cristina. In other words, bars cannot be reserved for the consumption of alcohol.
Looking at Funky’s full menu can make your stomach growl and your mouth water. The four-page extravaganza begins with a list of house salads, including a delicious Greek salad with a feta cheese dressing over all the fresh vegetables. There are a variety of different fresh beef burgers with a choice of toppings and condiments. The most intriguing burger would have to be the Funky Jerk Burger with pepper-jack cheese, grilled pineapple, red onions and a slightly spicy Jamaican jerk sauce.
Since the Grothes own the restaurant, there’s a lot of culinary freedom to create and choose what they want to serve. Weekly chef specials keep the kitchen staff creative.
The “snack list” is long and includes the ever-popular jalapeno poppers, fried pickles, and fried ravioli. What’s better with an ice-cold beer? And yes, there are several combination selections of fresh nachos so some customers can stay in a comfort zone.
Scrolling through the ‘Build Your Own Pizza’ page, dozens of different combinations await culinary adventure seekers, and the house specialties, ‘Buffalo Chicken Pizza’ and ‘White Philly Steak Pizza’, also look delicious. Fresh pizza dough reigns over their ovens.
The restaurant’s bar selection features cool choices such as “Funky Mojito”, “Bong Water” (like a Long Island iced tea) and the signature cocktail, “Funky Monkey”, which is a tropical fruit and rum specialty . Soft drinks and fruit juices are also available.
“Funky’s is such a new concept in Danville that people don’t really know what they’re getting into when they come here, and we’ve been pretty open already. Some people may be surprised at the high energy level, but we will help them through this ordeal. Funky’s is definitely a completely different concept from Buffalo Wild Wings and a completely different crowd,” laughs Cristina.
“For our games and all of our electronic technology, we went through a company, #1 Amusements, in Greensboro before we even started construction. We brought them in and said, ‘Listen, this is what we want to do and let us know if you think this is a good idea’. We can start with some recommendations and see if it works and we’ll see what doesn’t and that’s how we ended up with our game selections.
What sets “Funky’s” apart from other wings and game rooms?
John says, “We have better food and we have a huge selection of craft beers and a huge selection of local beers. The other places like Buffalo’s, Kickbacks, Olive Garden and Outback’s Steak House have local beers, but they only have four or five craft beers.
“For us, we have a well-rounded selection of craft and national beers that other places don’t have because they’re company-based and can’t compete or have chosen not to compete with us. Since it’s a company, their decision-making on product switching takes too long and involves too much discussion and negotiation,” says John Grothe.
The good thing about Funky’s is that they stock between 150 and 180 different beers. To keep their customers interested in new beer selections, the Grothes allow their vendors access to any empty open slots in the beer cooler/rack, if they push a new beer they go ahead and store it and see if customers like it.
“We’re working on opening a comedy club here and a live music venue, and plan to have real East Coast grinders (subs or poor sandwiches) here. I have a salesperson who can bring me this great Costanzo Bread from Buffalo and ship it overnight for our grinders. That way we could taste the same delicious deli sandwiches in Waterbury, Connecticut, or Western New York.
And the Grothes may have the delicious hard-to-find Italian bologna, mortadella, on hand, and are also available for their rising line of East-Coast mills. They also mentioned that they might add fresh calzones (stuffed Italian pizza turnovers) to their menu. Hot from the oven, oozing with ricotta cheese, drenched in hot garlicky marinara, it’s the holy grail of East Coast pizzerias.
Funky’s Arcade Bar
Kristina and John Grothe
315 Lynn Street, Suite B
Danville, Virginia 24541