Photos by Shannon Richardson

Quietly, the family fun facility immediately south of Cinemark Amarillo Hollywood 16 is being transformed. Once known as Sports World Family Fun Center—home to 18 holes of mini-golf, batting cages and go-kart tracks—the 5-acre facility was taken over by Halee and Jonathan DeSimone in 2022. The couple operated it as Sports World for two seasons before launching the property under a new brand: Mesa.

The Park at Mesa includes the same family attractions. A new restaurant, Mesa Bar & Grill, serves burgers and street food favorites in an intimate space that seats 90. “Everything has a Spanish- or Mexican-inspired flair,” Halee says.

Another atmosphere awaits in the basement: Mesa Underground, where guests can enjoy games and craft cocktails in a lively lounge with pop-art-style murals, mid century-inspired furniture, traditional table games and retro gaming consoles. (Super Mario World on the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System is a local favorite.)

“In every space you go into, there’s a different cocktail experience. In our resort-style concept, this is the adults area you’d experience in a resort,” Halee says of Mesa Underground.

The overall concept, Halee says, is meant to evoke a locally accessible getaway. “Think about when you go on vacation. If you go to an all-inclusive type resort, this is something we’re building onto. We want to help people catch the vision of having different spaces that serve the family, and offer all that activity and fun but without the overnight stay.”

That means family-friendly activities outside, cocktails and small bites at the bar and grill, and a downstairs getaway. (The DeSimones are still very early in a strategic five-year plan that will add multiple new elements to the property’s interior and exterior.) 

“You can come during the day, have lunch, do go-kart and mini-golf, and then Mom and Dad can get a sitter and come back and go down to the Underground,” she says.

With few bars or lounges serving southwest Amarillo, Mesa is hoping to become a destination for young couples and families in this part of town. Regardless of location, bars in the Texas Panhandle tend to operate on more of a beer-and-margaritas mindset, so Mesa intends to carve out a craft cocktail niche. “We want to give Amarillo the opportunity to experience craft cocktails, but without leaving anybody out—you can also come get a Dos Equis or [Michelob] Ultra on a date night,” she adds. Beers from local brewery Pondaseta are also available on tap.

Mesa’s beverage director, Michael Hoy, is a familiar face to locals. He once worked at the late, great Royal Bar in the Wolflin Square location of Palace Coffee. At Mesa, Hoy continues to embrace his passion for hospitality and creative concoctions. “There is nothing I love more in the world than somebody taking a sip of a drink and tasting something unexpected and familiar at the same time,” he says. “The force that drives our cocktail program comes from the want to serve, with the need to create.”

He admits that not every cocktail on Mesa’s menus will be beloved by every guest, “but every single person has their cocktail on our menu.” Regardless, the customers come first. “The people are the most important ingredient in the experience,” he says.

With the late spring and early summer patio season in full bloom, we asked Hoy and the Mesa team to suggest summer cocktails for readers to mix at home. (Or, at least, to try at Mesa.) These aren’t simple Chilton cocktails or gin-and-tonics, but refreshing, elevated, resort-style drinks that turn a warm, relaxing moment into a vacation-style experience. 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

“Resort-style” in every way—right down to the large-format tiki-style container—this lavish cocktail is centered around what Hoy describes as “the mystification of the South Pacific” dating back to the 1930s and 1940s: “The tiki movement is a traditional and pivotal point for the American cocktail movement.” Don’t attempt this one solo (It’s meant to serve 3 to 4). “There’s a lot of alcohol in this,” he says.

4 ounces lime juice
4 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce passion fruit puree
3 ounces cinnamon syrup
1 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Originale liqueur
4 ounces Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum
2 ounces Flor de Cana 7
2 ounces Flor de Cana White
6 dashes Angostura bitters

A’Peelin’

Incredibly, this rum-based drink offers hints of banana bread. Hoy describes it as his take on a classic cocktail called the Hotel Nacional, made popular at a hotel by the same name in Cuba. Fresh pineapple and a house-made Jamaican Jerk syrup contribute to the fruit-forward notes.

½ ounce lime juice
¼ ounce Giffard apricot liqueur
½ ounce house-made Jamaican jerk syrup
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ½ ounces Plantation (Planteray) pineapple rum

Rye Chai Mai Tai

This version of the classic mai tai replaces blended rum with chai tea-infused rye, giving it a unique chai tea flavoring. A cashew orgeat replaces the traditional almond orgeat. “This is a tropical classic with some updated love,” says Hoy.

¾ ounce lime juice
1 ounce Giffard Blue Curaçao liqueur
¾ ounce cashew orgeat
2 ounces chai tea-infused Rittenhouse Rye
Mint sprig for garnish

Nai-Tai (mocktail)

This drink offers a similar taste to the rye chai mai tai but without the bite of alcohol. Hoy suggests the non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip Spice 94 “to bolster the suggestion of alcohol.”

½ ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce cashew orgeat
½ ounce non-alcoholic Blue Curaçao
2 ounces Seedlip Spice 94
Blood orange wheel for garnish

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