Several months ago, Andrew Pereira gave me a tour in a dark, vast, dirt-floored space. He indicated where the 100-foot buffet and the themed dining rooms would be, as well as the upscale restaurant, and of course, the arcade games and massive laser tag arenas.
Last week, we retraced our steps in that space, but things were a little different. Now, there actually was an insanely long buffet, where customers were enjoying Southern food, Mexican food, Chinese food, a carving station with turkeys and prime rib — and lots more.
A themed dining room celebrating local surf culture and sports and a room with a stage for people to sing and play instruments were there (along with a room for younger kids).
There were banquet rooms, a huge arcade game area and two state-of-the-art laser tag arenas that were like stepping into strange, black-light netherworlds.
The upscale restaurant, Delicioso!, which opens next week, was also all but complete (and will feature a wide menu, including Kobe New York steak, stuffed cornish game hen, beef Wellington and honey pecan-encrusted king salmon).
This was the grand opening of Endless Food & Fun, and Pereira had clearly achieved what he set out to do: create a new concept destination that will cater to the whims, tastes and budgets of virtually everyone.
"Our buffet starts at $5.99 for kids under 12 and $9.99 for adults," Pereira said. "We don't think there's any other place that delivers this variety and high-quality food every night for this price. We want everyone to be able to enjoy it here, to have an experience like they've never had before — the amazing food, the games, the laser tag. Once you enter Endless Food & Fun, we want everything you love to become, well, endless."
Andrew's wife, Bettina, who has been a big part of the Endless Food & Fun vision as well, agreed.
"Whether you enjoy the buffet or Delicioso!," she said, "we want you to feel like you've done something big but for just a little money."
There are special weekend brunches, themed food nights during the week — and the place really is bigger and more over the top than I'd imagined during my summer walk-through.
Of course, many will use the concept based on their own needs. Some may just come for the food, others may be gamers, but everything starts at the buffet, which, not by coincidence, feels like something straight out of Las Vegas.
"The Vegas buffets are so impressive; that's what we wanted to capture here," Andrew said. "Only at an affordable price and close to home."
There's so much to take in that it's almost hard to do it justice in words, but I can say that the design of the space is incredibly comfortable, spacious, spotless and interesting. It just seems to go and on (endlessly), and you realize that the vision of creating the "world's largest" family entertainment and food complex may actually have been realized.
Birthday party room reservations (for both kids and adults) have been brisk, and the customers I overheard seemed blown away by the concept of the place as they worked the buffet line.
Some things you just have to see to believe, as I hope you'll get to experience at this dream come true for a couple of can-do local entrepreneurs.
Endless Food & Fun is adjacent to the Thomasville home furnishings store at 7227 Edinger Ave. For more information, visit http://www.endlessfoodandfun.com.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.