After nearly 18 months of development, Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille in Sherman opened its doors Thursday night for a private gathering that served as an unofficial opening for the business. The private party for members of the community comes ahead of the entertainment venue’s official opening Friday morning.


In addition to offering bowling and an eight-screen movie theater, the location features an arcade with a ropes course and zip line, a full-service restaurant and bar and axe-throwing stalls.


“What patrons can expect is a full range and full day of attractions for the full family to be together,” Mark Schulman said Thursday.


Lauren Thorne, corporate counsel for the company, said this is Schulman’s largest location yet.


“We always have eight screens, but this will have a bigger arcade, bowling and restaurant and bar than our other locations,” she said.


With the larger size, Thorne said she expected the Sherman location to serve as a testing area for new ideas and attractions before they are launched at the other locations. Among these attractions will be multi-player virtual reality technology that allows players to play a variety of games ranging from samurai role playing to zombie hunting.


Despite Thursday serving as an unofficial launch, Thorne said the location launched with a soft opening earlier this week for friends and family. The entertainment venue also had its first party when someone booked it for a graduation celebration, she said. The first birthday parties will come on Sunday.


The venue will start with shorter hours in the first few days as employees adjust and get experience, Thorne said. The restaurant and bar is expected to keep late night hours starting next week, but Thorne said she was uncertain of how late it would stay open.


For Thursday’s party, officials predicted between 300-400 people would be in attendance. The event also marked the first showing at the venue’s theater, with Godzilla: King of All Monsters serving as the first movie to be shown at the location.


Among those in attendance was Sherman Mayor David Plyler, who spoke on how the business will transform the southside of the city.


“It’s hard to believe it was less than a year ago when we stood here in this same spot and it was just a truck-stop parking lot,” Plyler said. “Looking around us now, it’s hard to imagine what this space was — it’s almost impossible. One of the most important corners in all of Sherman has been completely transformed.”


Plyler said the new business will benefit the city by drawing visitors from miles away while offering residents entertainment that they likely would have had to travel to Durant, Oklahoma or Frisco for in the past.


“Combined with the Crossroads development across the highway, Legacy Village will do for south Sherman what the town center has done for the north side — forever transforming our city for the better,” Plyler said.


Michael Hutchins is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.