Parents looking to dine, shop, gamble or enjoy a show at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem no longer need to dial up a baby sitter. The complex has it covered.
With Monday's opening of Kids Quest, a supervised children's entertainment center for ages 6 weeks to 12 years, parents can leave their kids free to enjoy basketball, karaoke, video games, a floor-to-ceiling maze and much more, all under the watchful eyes of professionally trained staff.
The center is housed in the same 16,000-square-foot space as Cyber Quest, a nonviolent arcade that opened the same day on the lower level of The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem, between Limited Editions Eccoci Collections and Old Farmer's Almanac General Store.
"This collaboration will bring a new level of guest services to the families and retail shoppers who frequent Sands Bethlehem, and allow them peace of mind knowing that their kids are having just as much fun as they are," then-Sands Bethlehem President Robert DeSalvio said in a news release last fall.
Upon entering, you will find Kids Quest on the right, separated by an employee-manned counter. It is not accessible to the public.
The facility fosters children's imaginations via traditional and cutting-edge games, but safety is always its "top priority," said Kids Quest and Cyber Quest Operations Manager Rich Del Vecchio.
At check-in, parents provide contact information and are given a bar code that matches one placed on their child. To check their child out, parents must present that bar code and a photo ID.
Additionally, Kids Quest operates with staff-to-children ratios of 1-to-4 for infants and toddlers, and 1-to-10 for preschool and school age.
For an hourly fee ($9.50 to $11.50), children can enjoy a wide array of amenities, including free-play arcade games, iPads and video game consoles (Xbox, Wii and Playstation 4), half-court gym, rock-climbing wall, Lego wall, arts and crafts, dramatic play area, pinball machines, puzzles, books and manipulative toys.
There is also a Tiny Tots Room where babies and young toddlers play with age-appropriate toys and engage in fun activities.
Healthful snacks are provided after two and a half hours and a meal is provided after four hours. Additional food is available for a fee.
Next door at Cyber Quest, I saw countless attractions — from racing games and claw machines to air hockey and skee ball — that took me back to my childhood.
I saw even more new games that made me wish I was young again, including Fruit Ninja, based on the popular app. There are 85 games overall.
Children get a gaming card on arrival and can gather paper tickets or electronic tickets on them. Tickets can earn kids prizes that range from candy, Slinkies and bubbles to laptops, guitars and gum-ball machines. Children are also awarded free credits for good grades (must bring in current report card).
Del Vecchio acknowledges some people will view the arcade as a place "to raise future gamblers," but he said that's not true.
"All of the games are skill-based," he said. "They're not based on luck. Children are shooting basketballs, using hand-eye coordination and several other skills."
Children under age 13 must be accompanied by an adult while in the arcade, which offers gaming tournaments on select days.
The Minnesota-based New Horizon Kids Quest operates 20 Kids Quest centers and nine Cyber Quest arcades in 12 states, almost all at casinos. The Bethlehem facility, which offers three themed private party rooms, is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Info: pasands.com or kidsquest.com.
Fans of Bethlehem's Flama Tropical should take comfort in the fact that the Latin restaurant has not closed but moved to a new location in the city.
The eatery, which operated at 821 Linden St. for five years, opened June 17 at 559 E. Broad St., the former home of The Rock International Cuisine.
The restaurant serves a variety of Latin staples, from fried yucca and plantains to tacos and shrimp Cuban sandwiches. The business also began operating a food truck about a year ago at 1801 Union Blvd. in Allentown. Info: 610-807-9500.
Thanks to Retail Watcher Joshua Daly of Hellertown, I learned that the former Pathmark in Saucon Valley Square on Route 378 in Lower Saucon Township will be refitted to include national discount retailer Dollar Tree and fitness club chain Maxx Fitness, which already has locations on Easton Avenue in Bethlehem and South Fourth Street in Allentown.
Zoning and building permits posted in the window indicate interior alterations are underway, but I do not have projected opening dates as Maxx Fitness is not sure of the construction timeline and Dollar Tree did not respond to my message.
The businesses will be welcome additions at the shopping center, which also lost Blockbuster, Foxes Hallmark and Starters Pub in recent years. Revolutions, a 40,000-square-foot restaurant and entertainment facility, opened last year in the former Regal Cinema space.
Forks Township residents will soon be "lovin' it" when a McDonald's opens on Towne Center Boulevard in the parking lot of Forks Plaza, near Sullivan Trail.
Forks supervisors approved the fast-food eatery with a 24-hour drive-thru window June 19.
According to township zoning officer Tim Weis, construction is set to begin in September and conclude in December.
From fast food to fine dining, The Hamilton Kitchen & Bar will open July 7 on the first floor of Two City Center at Seventh and Hamilton streets in Allentown, according to a news release.
The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Dinner entrees will range from $15 for pasta or a salad to $45 for a steak, chops or premium seafood, said owner Donny Petridis, who founded swanky Valley eateries Blue and Melt.
The culinary team is led by executive chef Drew Stark, a Delaware County native and veteran of restaurants in New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
"My culinary philosophy is that food need not be overly complicated and recipes should feature only premium local ingredients in season," Stark said.
The 8,000-square-foot Hamilton, with 25 seats at the bar and another 150 in the restaurant portion, will feature vaulted-brick ceilings, hand-painted ceramic tiles, reclaimed woods and crimson-leather seating. There also will be an outdoor patio. Info: thehamiltonkitchen.com.
Retail Watchers looking to add some entertainment to their home should stop by Allentown Tables when it opens July 15 at 4550 Hamilton Blvd. in Lower Macungie Township.
The business, which will fill the space left vacant by Season's Produce, has been operating as an online seller of pub tables, pool tables, poker tables and shuffleboard tables for 15 years.
It also has operated a small showroom inside Doctor Feelgoode's on Route 378 in Lower Saucon Township for almost three years. That inventory will be moved to the new venue.
Allentown Tables, owned by husband and wife Michael and Barbara Kemp of Lower Macungie Township, also sells bars, stools, lights and table accessories. Info: 610-554-1647 or allentowntables.com.
I'll finish with an update, the last one, on Another Story used bookstore at 524 N. 18th St. (near Wert's Cafe) in Allentown.
I first wrote about the 30-year-old shop in January when it was expected to close due to owner John Furphy's inability to pay rent.
Following the column, however, customers flocked to the city's last full-line independent bookstore, often providing generous tips. Furphy ultimately raised the necessary $4,500 he owed his landlord "and then some."
Unfortunately, Furphy has found himself in the same predicament five months later. The business will hold its second and final going-out-of-business sale (everything 50 percent off), Tuesday through July 31.
"I probably should've closed in January as I now look like the boy who cried wolf, but I kept hope," Furphy said. Info: 610-435-4433.
Retail Watch keeps track of new store, restaurant and bank development in the Lehigh Valley. Have a question about a retail construction project, store opening or chain you'd like to see come to the area? Contact reporter Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or email@example.com. Retail Watch appears every Sunday.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun