There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Reopening Plan for Bowling Centers

by Bob Johnson 0

There is no one-size-fits-all reopening plan for those in the bowling business, given the numerous business models that exist today, whether a center sits on leased or owned-by-the-proprietor land, and whether the business itself is “free and clear” or there’s still a mortgage to be paid.

As we’re seeing across the country as states begin to reopen, some proprietors are opening as soon as they are allowed, some are taking a wait-and-see attitude, and some won’t be reopening at all.

Back Bowl in Eagle, Colo., opened its doors on April 27 after outlining its plan for doing so with the Eagle County Department of Public Health.

During the first phase of the reopening, the center was allowed to offer bowling, billiards and take-out food. It will not be allowed to open its restaurant until the second phase kicks in.

Owners Jen and Jeff Young made the difficult decision to close down Elmira Bowl in Ontario, Canada, permanently.

Meanwhile, in Fishers, Ind., Kevin Walter, the Chief Operating Officer of Pinheads, says, "I’m not really interested in reopening for now — especially if the plan is nearly impossible to execute.”

Early guidelines would cut capacity and revenue streams significantly.

“I could lose more than I’m losing now,” Walter said, “not to mention damaging the experience for the long term, ruining repeat business and word of mouth."

Jen and Jeff Young, unfortunately, could not wait out the pandemic-caused closure of Elmira Bowl in Elmira, Ontario, Canada.

They made the difficult decision to close down the center, addressing the matter on Facebook: “The rumors you have been hearing are true. We are closed. Elmira Bowl will no longer be offering any services.”

“Speaking” to the center’s customers directly, the Youngs added: “Elmira Bowl could not have been as successful as it was without your loyalty.”

Just not successful enough to outlast Canada’s mandated closing.

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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.

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