Ohio town loses center

by Bob Johnson 0

It may have been the shortest run a bowling center has ever had.

Just two weeks after opening to the public on July 14, North Coast Shoreway Lanes in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, has closed its doors.

For good, according to the Sheffield Lake City Council.

Actually, the center — part of the Shoreway Shopping Center — had been open previously, but its owner was forced to shut it down when the landlord threatened eviction due to non-payment of rent. Reportedly, more than $200,000 in back rent was owed to the Levin Family Trust, which has a majority stake in the shopping center.

Then in a highly unusual move, the Sheffield City Council stepped in and struck a deal to resurrect the center. In lieu of a flat monthly rent fee, the operators agreed to pay the city a percentage of profits.

But before the new bowling season got under way, the city decided to back out of the deal, presumably because the Levin Family Trust had placed a lien on the property and its contents.

“We had a long talk that the city could pay off all of the bills, buy the equipment and salvage what is left of the business,” Mayor John Piskura told the Morning Journal newspaper, “but we’d be gambling on whether or not it would be successful in the future. It would be a huge mistake to make any investment with the hopes of turning this place around. If people who know bowling can’t make this business work, I don’t think we can probably do any better.”

Situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Sheffield Lake is five minutes east of the city of Lorain, the hometown of PBA Hall of Famer Jim Godman.

It is home to 9,500 people, but as of July 28, it no longer is home to a bowling center.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.