Offering A Diverse Venue For Life’s Biggest Moments
By Christy Rosell
About 140,000 drivers heading to Atlanta on I-20 through South Cobb see it every day. A modern venue called the Riverside EpiCenter stands tall and bright as drivers leave and return home. Some of them know the wonders it holds. But many have no idea of the unique offerings inside.
“Our diversity of services is one of our greatest challenges and greatest opportunities,” says General Manager Christopher Boyd, Ph.D. “How do you let people know what you are and how you can serve their needs?”
Boyd and his team recently celebrated the venue’s fifth anniversary. Now, they continue the conversation of how to market their unique position in the convention center marketplace.
So, what IS the EpiCenter?
The Riverside EpiCenter was opened in 2014 by Bishop Dale C. Bronner and Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral. The bishop presented the idea when the church discussed creating something transformational in the community.
Pronounced Epee-center, the venue’s name was inspired by a geologic event, “where an earthquake happens: we’re at the center of a lot of rumbling, a lot of diversity,” Boyd said. But he laughed, admitting that people prefer to pronounce it another way: EPIC-center.
“At first, we corrected people. But after a while, we just embraced it. Look up the word: ‘impressively grand.’ When you come into the facility, everything about it is impressively grand. The fact that a church did this is even more impressive. It really is a fitting name. We just ran with it.”
According to Boyd, the venue — located on Riverside Parkway in Austell — is a place where families can experience a wholesome environment and the fun of life. There’s a full gym. There are entertainment facilities, such as a bowling alley, an arcade, and a custom rock wall. There is extensive event space for family and corporate events, including a theatre, a ballroom, breakout rooms, and even a recording studio. Finally, there’s a retail space with food and shops.
Epic productions at the EpiCenter
This facility can be almost anything to anyone. Boyd said on a Friday, the center will host a birthday party and a wedding and reception the next day. They’ll pack the 596-seat theatre for a dance recital on Sunday.
Come Monday, a film company takes over, packing the parking lot with cranes and hundreds of movie extras’ cars. “Film companies say, ‘Wow! We can do a lot of scene changes here in one location,’” Boyd says.
For the past two years, Viacom has hosted an international broadcast production of its BET TV breast cancer awareness program. They come back because they love the place and people, said Boyd.
Corporate events at the Epicenter
Czarnowski is one of North America’s largest trade show companies and has a location in Cobb. The company creates displays for high-profile clients, including Mercedes Benz Stadium and Porsche. Every year, the company hosts an event at Riverside EpiCenter for its 400 employees.
According to Boyd, Czarnowski’s CEO pumps them up in the theatre, followed by an energetic concert. They head to the ballroom for lunch. And then they enjoy all the gaming and other activities offered at the facility: bowling, rock climbing, arcade games, and working out in the fitness club. The Czarnowski employees then reconvene to wind down in the theatre. “How many places do you know where all these elements can be accomplished?” Boyd asked.
The company also contracts with the EpiCenter to offer year-long fitness club benefits to its staff.
Economic impact on Cobb
Many EpiCenter events attract visitors to Cobb, giving tourism a boost. Part of the attraction is the location. Situated right off of I-20, it’s just 10 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from downtown Atlanta. And the facility has free parking — an unusual commodity in Atlanta.
The Southern Star Music Festival appreciates the proximity to Six Flags Theme Park, which is a few minutes down the highway. That event brings 10,000 students from high school bands and choral groups here. Students, chaperones, and families come from South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia to compete; they stay in local hotels, eat in local food establishments, and scream on Georgia’s rollercoasters. The festival just signed another two-year agreement moving forward.
Family values in business
While the facility’s range of amenities and location are a draw, the values of its team are what keep people coming back, Boyd said. “We worked carefully to know our values; we value our Christian faith,” he said. “We are here as a source of love for our community. Next are customer satisfaction and integrity; we demand excellence of ourselves. We do things the right way, even when no one else is watching us.”
Boyd recently launched a customer survey process for those who book events there to help keep him and his team accountable. He also launched a Groupon program for the entertainment area; the offer is for bowling, rock climbing, and fun in the arcade. To date, they have sold 1,584 Groupons. Once those customers experience the EpiCenter, they have the opportunity to complete a Groupon Survey. Currently, the venue has a 4.5-star rating out 5. “It’s encouraging that the vast majority of folks have given a 5 out of 5,” Boyd said, specifically pointing out that most of the reviews mention the attention to service.
The next big things at the EpiCenter
Boyd says the EpiCenter’s biggest business drivers are productions — as well as nonprofit and religious events, followed by family birthday parties, reunions, weddings, and community events like sports banquets.
But after working with Czarnowski and other companies, he knows the opportunities for businesses are … well, epic. He hopes to make more companies aware of the possibilities. With the popularity of podcasts, he also wants to better publicize the EpiCenter’s professional recording studio. State-of-the-art technology and his professional engineering staff can help musicians make demos or provide a place for someone to record an audio book.
And because they were built to be there as a community resource, they continue to listen for opportunities to serve needs. They are growing a youth program and also hope to open a health clinic later this year. The clinic will give the community better access to wellness checkups and even care for minor, urgent needs.
For more information about how the Riverside EpiCenter can support your next corporate or family event, visit RiversideEpiCenter.com, or call 678.903.5480.