THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
6 SHORTS • Colie Edison is the Undercover Boss. • Bel Mateo Bowl gets a little help from its friends. • The Alley is coming to Gadsden, AL. • Phoenix, Oregon filmmakers give back. • Lack of sight is not an obstacle. • Tip of the Hat to Southport Lanes • Sherwood Bowl is Canada’s Center of the Year
30 FEATURE Rebel Spirit, Practical Business Brothers Matthew and Ben Jones bring it all to their UK-based Roxy Ball Room chain By Paul Lane 22
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber email@example.com
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
CONTRIBUTORS Patty Heath Evan Henerson Mark Miller Paul Lane John LaSpina
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Stephanie Davis Stephanie@bowlingindustry.com
36 IN MY OWN WORDS Cin! Cin! Celebrating 60 years at Maple Lanes By John LaSpina
MARKETING MANAGER AND SALES Natalie Davis Natalie@bowlingindustry.com
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher email@example.com
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks
By Patty Heath
38 CENTER STAGE
The Basement, Miami Step up! Step out! Step down for fun!
Making the Old Look New Again
By Patty Heath
The Tucker brothers keep the old family business alive By Mark Miller 30
46 REMEMBER WHEN 1958 Vicks Cold Tablets
22 COVER STORY
By Patty Heath
Sign of the Times The COVID-19 economy forces Mahall’s to reimagine its possibilities
By Evan Henerson
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FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 firstname.lastname@example.org www.BowlingIndustry.com
HOTLINE: 818-789-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $60 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, P.O. Box 7350 Overland Park, KS 66207 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2020, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
A NEW SCHEELS ALL SPORTS
While Scheels All Sports will not be open for business in Colorado Springs, CO, until March of 2021, it is a bright spot in a rather bleak world. Scheels is an outdoor equipment, sporting goods, In construction mode in Colorado Springs and apparel retailer, and its move to Colorado Springs will make it one of the city’s largest brick-andmortar stores. An employee-owned chain of 28 stores in 13 states, Scheels bills itself as a place where outdoor enthusiasts go for an experience, not just to shop. Its new venue will cover 220,000 square feet and house specialty shops, baseball and golf simulators, a shooting gallery, mini bowling and a café. The plan is to hire 350 people—120 full-time employees and 230 part-timers. On the second floor there will be a wildlife mountain that will display 200 taxidermy-preserved animals. Directly below it, on the first floor, there will sit a 16,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. The center of the store will feature Scheels’ trademark, 65-foot tall indoor Ferris wheel that customers can ride.
JUST AROUND THE CORNER IN THE ALLEY Gadsden, AL, is in for a treat. While no firm date has yet been set, the opening of Bethanne Mashburn’s The Alley is just around the corner. 300 league bowlers have already signed up to play at the facility when the time comes, and local high schools are ready to practice at The Alley. The inspiration came to Mashburn at IAAPA in Orlando, FL. She saw and vowed, “If they have it at Dave & Buster’s, we’re going to have it here.” “You can’t get more non-essential than us,” she said. “But what we present is important. We represent hope for tomorrow. We represent faith that the world is going to be good again.” The Alley will also offer party rooms and food, served from a “broke down food truck.” Mashburn wanted to play off the idea of a big city alleyway. There will be an arched, brick tunnel leading to the bowling lanes and arcade. Chain link fences and graffiti add to the edgy ambiance. Masburn is not new to family entertainment. She is the owner of The Factory, a trampoline gym/arcade also in Gadsden.
BIGGER & BETTER! WITH THE HELP OF FRIENDS Bel Mateo Bowl in San Mateo, CA, has been a staple since 1957. Like most community centers, it is struggling through the COVID-19 lockdown. The center has been closed since March except for a three-week stint in June. Then it was locked down again. Mike Leong has owned the business since 2013 when he purchased it from Rex Golobic, who owned multiple centers in the Bay Area. The extended lockdown in California was putting Leong up against the wall. He realized that he’d be broke in less than a month if something didn’t change. In desperation, Leong launched a GoFundMe for the center and within five days 363 people donated more than $45,000 which was enough to keep the business In anticipation of reopening, $30,000 afloat through the end of the year. was spent to safeguard customers. “It’s a godsend. It’s extremely touching to see the type of support that we have,” said Leong. He feels if he can at least open to 40% capacity by the end of the year, then the bowling center can break even, and his 30 employees can keep their jobs. As of Sept. 22, San Mateo County had moved into the state’s red tier, but bowling centers were not included in the new openings. www.gofundme.com/f/save-bel-mateo-bowl.
Scene 75 in Dayton, OH, has been through it. Last year tornadoes paid a visit and did enough significant damage to force Jonah Sandler, founder and CEO, to temporarily close. He thought it presented the right time to remodel and improve and time was on his side as this year he was closed due to COVID-19. But that is all behind him, and Scene 75 is bigger and better. Visitors will find 20,000 additional square feet, equaling 160,000 square feet; four lanes of mini bowling; an arcade; a 4-D motion theater; bumper cars; blacklight mini golf; and two grand additions, Tsunami roller coaster and Grand Carousel. The Grand Carousel boasts two floors filled with 31 hand-carved and handpainted animals, 1,182 light bulbs, 28 dazzling mirrors, and two staircases.
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
Pinheads in Oak Hill, WV, used its closed time, which started in March, to open their parking lot with the resumption of school to let kids do online schoolwork. The internet is spotty in areas and sharing theirs for kids seemed a good alternative. Owner Alison Ibarra said, “We have to help each other out.”
Village Lanes Bowling Center in Leesburg, VA, is under new ownership. Scott Carpenter, Charlie Beach, and Paul Ferrari, all local residents, purchased the 17,000-square-foot building on four acres in August; it had been on the market for three years. While the building was first imagined as a new location for Carpenter Beach Construction, after some thought and a third partner, Paul Ferrari, a renovated bowling center with a new kitchen and HVAC system seemed like a good option for them and the community.
California has been slow to reopen. Staying closed with no source of revenue can only last so long. Zodo’s in Goleta, CA, took its arcade outdoors and installed a turf patio to keep business afloat. The indoor bar also moved to the outdoor patio.
Another new change in ownership happened in Colville, WA. Copper Bowl was purchased by Malinda and Tom Carpenter from Ken and Sheri Marsh who were ready to retire. “The opportunity presented itself and they don’t present themselves like that often,” said Malinda. Copper Bowl was the first center to reopen in the area at the start of September. It’s a start with a lot of changes to come, including party rooms and an arcade.
Comet Pub & Lanes in Decatur, GA, has finally reopened. While Gov. Kemp had reopened centers in April, with a resurgence in early July, Comet took its time. GM Jessica Sasser wasn’t comfortable reopening sooner. Now, she say, “It’s based on having a lot more information and knowledge on the virus. Knowledge on what cleaning solutions help kill the virus and the [safety] methods that are most effective.” During the shut down, Comet set up a GoFundMe account to help out their staff of 36 employees. Sasser said, “We were able to supply each employee with a sum of money to help them buy groceries and things like that.”
WATCH UNDERCOVER BOSS When Colie Edison, CCO for Bowlero Corp and CEO of PBA, accepted CBS’s invitation to go on Undercover Boss, her goal was to enhance her understanding of how she Colie (L) and her alter ego Micelle could better serve the company and its experience for customers. She wanted to get a view of how things worked on the ground. Transformed as ‘Micelle,’ a former courtroom reporter who was looking to change careers, she met and was inspired by the workers who work hard to make Bowlero a successful chain of centers. The cameras following her were presented as a documentary group on second careers that was following Micelle.
By the end, Colie, through the eyes of Micelle, saw her company in a different light. Three individuals, Dennis, a manager, Ron, a mechanic, and Hannah, a single mother, working parttime and hoping for fulltime employment, were the stars. Watch what happens when Colie becomes Micelle. https://meaww.com/undercover-boss-cbs-colie-bowlerothoughtful-generous-gift-employees-fans-react-angel-season-11.
San Jose, CA, has a new destination to look forward to—San Pedro Social. It is a two-story space in downtown San Jose. It will feature a four-lane basement-level bowling alley, private dining area, full bar, pool, karaoke, and vintage arcade games, including pinball. IBI
THE PHOENIX WILL RISE IBI followed the progress of the indie film, Phoenix, Oregon, which opened in early 2020 with surprising success. Both the producer, Luis Rodriquez, and the director/writer, Gary Lundgren call Phoenix home. The critically acclaimed comedy highlighted the friendship of two guys in mid-life crisis who seize an opportunity to follow their dream and open a bowling alley and pizzeria.
Phoenix, the town, was hit hard by COVID-19 and the subsequent shut down of businesses. Small towns feel the brunt quickly. In May, Rodriguez and Lundgren partnered with Oregon Hospitality Foundation to raise more than $4,000 in virtual ticket sales of their movie to benefit sidelined restaurant workers across the state. Cut to Sept. 8, when a fast-moving wildfire swept through Phoenix burning hundreds of homes and businesses, leaving a good portion of the town flattened. Rodriguez, who lives in Phoenix, saw friends and family lose everything. Now the filmmaking team is raising funds to rebuild the town and surrounding community. The funds will be used to help at risk and vulnerable families, especially in the Latino community. https://phoenixoregonmovie.com/firefund
TIP OF THE HAT SOUTHPORT LANES’ 98-YEAR RUN COMES TO A CLOSE Southport Lanes, a Chicago historic bar, bowling center, and billiards hall, which has been around for almost a century, closed Sep. 27. It had survived a lot—the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, and Chicago weather—but couldn’t bounce back from the 2020 pandemic. In the end it came down to math. The inability to open completely made it impossible to continue. According to a study by Yelp, from the beginning of March through the end of August, Chicago businesses have seen nearly 2,000 temporary closures and more than 3,000 permanent closures. Southport Lanes, originally the Nook, was built around 1900
by Schlitz Brewery and was a Schlitz bar. In 1922, the four lanes were added, and Southport Lanes was born. In regard to the lanes, not much has changed; they are still manned by human pinsetters. All the other colorful history has changed. It is no longer considered a Prohibition speakeasy, the secret room for gaming is gone, and the brothel upstairs has faded away. During his reign, starting in 1991, owner Steve Soble fulfilled a dream of his to buy a round of shots for every customer when the Cubs won the World Series. Then there was the evening he served Al Pacino, who was taking a break from filming Glengarry Glen Ross. “I would say we’ve had a really good run,” shared Soble.
KEVIN DORNBERGER SHARES THE PAST TWO MONTHS LEFT TO BID Kevin Dornberger, an International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame board member, has teamed up with the IBMHOF to create a multi-month, online, charity auction. He has opened his treasure chest of bowling memorabilia to the public as a fundraiser for IBMHOF. Each month, a selection of unique bowling-related items from Dornberger’s private collection will be released on the IBMHOF auction website for bid. Dornberger has spent 18 years in international bowling administration, but his collection spans a lifetime of interest in bowling. “I’ve been bowling in some form or other for more 14
than 60 years, so collecting bowling memorabilia seemed like an appropriate extension of the sport.” Many of the items in the collection are one of a kind or highly unique. Items include rare drawings of 20th century bowling cartoons, limited-edition bowling balls, décor, paintings, sculptures, sketches, and many rare ABC gold and silver medals from the early 20th century. The remaining schedule is: Nov. 2-12; and Dec. 1-11. Thirty percent of the proceeds of this sale go towards the IBMHOF. www.ebay.com/usr/bowlingmuseumstore.
CANADIAN CENTER OF THE YEAR Bowl Canada, the governing body for all of the bowling lanes in Canada, has named Sherwood Bowl of Sherwood Park, Alberta, the Canadian 5-Pin Bowling Center of the Year. The center is family owned business. Wendy and Scott Wiseman bought Sherwood Bowl five years ago; Wendy had managed the center for 15 years. The Wisemans, with their sons, Tim and Dexter, have worked hard to make the center a community-oriented venue. One of the things that gave the center visibility was taking over a Proud owners Scott and Wendy Wiseman five-pin, four-day cash tournament, which last year saw 166 competitors, coast to coast, participate for approximately $107,000 in prize money. While there will be no formal conference and awards ceremony, getting the award by mail is just fine with the Wisemans. Tim Wiseman said, “Winning this award means a ton. We have put a lot of work into making Sherwood Bowl the best we can. There has been a lot of hard work, tears, and sweat. Especially this year, with the pandemic, it is just so nice to have a positive happen in the middle of it.”
PINNACLE OFFERS NEW TRAINING PROGRAM Pinnacle Entertainment Group, a leading multi-attraction family entertainment consultant, and entered into an exclusive, multi-year agreement with 1Huddle, a workforce tech company that upskills, trains, and motivates employees through the use of science-backed, quick-burst mobile games. “At Pinnacle, we are always searching for solutions to help our client’s front-line staff be the best that they can be, to engage with the business, and represent the brand,” said George McAuliffe, Pinnacle president. “Our clients all face the same issues—how to keep their staff happy, how to retain them, and how to represent the business to its ultimate customers, the players.” Sam Caucci, CEO and founder of 1Huddle, said “At 1Huddle, we are dedicated to making training fun and engaging while making new skills stick faster so employees are motivated and prepared to win at work. We are excited to partner with Pinnacle and bring our competitive gaming platform to entertainment centers across the country.” 16
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?
Hugo Belmont accepts his trophy at Orange Tenpin Bowl’s first tournament, in NSW, Australia, since COVID. Jason Belmonte, world champion bowler, presented the trophy to his son in the 101 – 140 average competition. Proud papa!
NEW OPTIONS FROM
Brunswick Bowling Products has announced its worldwide launch of Sync Prima™, the latest software, and Crown Advantage™, an all-inclusive center operating subscription service. Constantly working to improve and expand features and functionality of its products for customers’ easy use, Prima offers the Open Lane app, along with OrderNow for online ordering. There is also FloorPlan, a customized restaurant and center layout for best-in-class management and service. The combination of Prima’s new features and Crown Advantage’s updates brings Brunswick customers the latest and the best in business building technology and 24/7 technical support all in a convenient bundle. Crown Advantage is available in multiple subscription tiers. Existing Sync customers will enjoy a complimentary trial of Sync Prima with Crown Advantage Platinum through the end of 2020, and all new Sync purchases will include a one year subscription to Crown Advantage Platinum.
‘Bowling with Blue Day’ There is nothing better than to see kids enjoying bowling. Even better is to see policemen nurturing the kids and joining in the fun. Santa Fe Station, in Las Vegas, held “Bowling with Blue Day,” hosted by the Christian nonprofit Prison Fellowship in partnership with Adopt-a-Cop Nevada. Children ages 5 to 17 whose parents have been incarcerated had a chance to build positive relationships with local police officers. Approximately 60 kids and about 30 officers had a fun-filled bowling clinic. Besides learning how to bowl, the hope was that fear of police was replaced with the knowledge that they are supportive friends. This is the third year of this event and the number of participants has increased each year.
Sometimes you just have to stand up and let people know. Bowlers in Santa Maria, CA, in the Central Coast, stepped out to rally support for Rancho Bowl which had been shut down, opened, and then shut down again. California is one of the hold outs on reopening. Open California Bowling Centers Now is a Facebook group consisting of more than 5,500 members who are petitioning Gov. Gavin Newsom to let the bowling begin.
OH, DEAR! There are horror stories and then there are real-life, shut-youreyes and cringe stories. This is the latter and definitely a cautionary tale. Buddy Valastro, 43, is a baker and reality television personality. His series include Cake Boss, Buddy vs Duff, Next Great Baker, and Kitchen Boss. When not baking up a lot of sweet delights, he enjoys time home with family in New Jersey. It is there that we pick up the beginning of this horrific story. Valastro surrounded by his family. Posted by Brian Halstrom, BowlersMart, Valastro’s rep told People magazine, he was bowling with his family on their bowling lane when the pinsetter equipment malfunctioned. It had happened before, and Valastro had fixed it. Here’s the cringe part: After trying to release the bowling pin
from the cage mechanism, his right hand became lodged and compressed inside the unit. Unable to remove his hand, he could see a 1 ½” metal rod slowly and repeatedly impaling his hand three times between his ring finger and middle finger. Over 5 minutes elapsed before Valastro’s sones, Buddy, Jr., 16, and Marco, 13, were able to use a reciprocating saw “to cut through the metal rod” and extract his hand. His rep also told People that it “will be an uphill battle as it’s Buddy’s dominant right hand, and he will need prolonged recovery and therapy.” That being said, the spirit of the man shines through as he posts photos Practicing with his left hand. on Instagram of him working with his left hand! The takeaway? Never, ever, work on a machine without first unplugging it or, at least, turning it off. IBI
Nephew Chris Crowley , Daryl Tucker, Danny Tuckerand Josh Tucker, Dannyâ€™s son
MAKING THE OLD
LOOK NEW AGAIN The Tucker brothers keep the old family business alive At First Glance c History of the bowling secondary parts market c Tucker Bowling Supply explained c What the future holds 18
By Mark Miller
longside a dirt road in the farming town of Tulia between Amarillo and Lubbock, TX, is a complex that looks more like the set of a World War II movie than a bowling business operated by the same family for more than 60 years. This is the home of Tucker Bowling Equipment Company/Bowling Parts, Inc., started by Dan Tucker in 1958 and overseen since his 2003 death by his sons Daryl, now 66, and Danny Jr., 69. This is where virtually anything related to the capital equipment side of bowling is bought and sold, new and used AMF and Brunswick parts available for just about any type of bowling equipment
PROFILE including bumpers. The Tuckers acquired the bumper bowling part of the business a decade ago from Dallas bowling distributor and former proprietor Phil Kinzer, one of the pioneers of bumper bowling. It took seven truckloads to haul the equipment to the Tulia facility. “We make old things look new,” Daryl said. “We have our own niche. You can kind of say we are a junk dealer for bowling. There’s a real art to selling used parts; whatever anybody wants, we can do it. There have been others like US Bowling and All-American Bowling, but nobody has the warehouse space to keep things today.” Just a few years ago the brothers weren’t sure if there would be anyone to carry on the family legacy. But that changed in August 2017 when they began training nephew Chris Crowley, the son of sister Dianne, to eventually take over the business. That should mean at least another generation of family ownership. “I think he’s found a home,” Daryl said. “He’s used to this type of business, so it’s been a big help to have his expertise.” Back in high school, Chris worked for the family business. After school, he worked for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), then was a manager of a Love’s Truck Stop in Arkansas. Eventually, Chris decided he wanted to be back in a small town. He was always interested in the family business, but the timing had never worked out. Until now. Original owner and Tulia native Dan Tucker owned Post Office Cleaners for 15 years before starting the Dan Tucker Bowling Equipment Company in 1958. Like today, it specialized in buying, selling, and installing bowling equipment around the world. About the same time, he and 13 partners built Tulia Bowl, a 12-laner that originally remained open to the public until 1962 when a skating rink and sewing factory occupied the space. It reopened for bowling in the mid-1970s and closed again in 2010. Daryl and Danny have spent what little time they have available renovating the old center with the hope of re-opening it at some point. When it does come back, it likely will have only six lanes with the other six possibly replaced by their bumper bowling manufacturing operations now located in their main shop. When Dan Sr. started in the bowling business, it seemed as if every town in Texas and Oklahoma had a small AMF alley. In ensuing years, he added several to his portfolio, as many as ten centers at one time. Among them was Big Texan Lanes, a 74-lane house in Houston with Jamie Brooks.
Tucker also co-owned the former 54-lane Showplace and 24-lane San Pedro Bowl facilities in San Antonio. “He was considered the King of Bowling years ago. Everyone knew Dan Tucker,” said Daryl. Dan Sr. was a charter member of the former National Association of Independent Resurfacers (NAIR). “Back 30 or 40 years ago, there was no doubt who Dan Tucker was.” In the company’s hey-day in the 1980s, it employed 20-25 people available 24/7 for many years. They would rebuild equipment in the winters and put in lanes in the summers. Now there are only eight total employees including the brothers. The brothers now hire outside installers and crew, as they’ve backed off installing lanes themselves. Having worked in the business for so long, the Tucker brothers rarely come across a situation they haven’t done before. They’ve built lanes in the basements of private homes, churches, farmers’ barns, dude ranches, the 10th floor of one building, and even some outside locations. They also were instrumental in the bowling installations at the first nine Main Event Entertainment Centers in Texas. “You name it, and we have put it in,” Daryl said. “There’s no telling how many lanes we’ve pulled out and put back.” One example is in Snyder, TX, where they removed the machines, then refurbished and put them back. Another time in West Virginia they removed lanes at one center and placed them in another center three and half hours away. They installed the 16 regular lanes and eight others that utilize pin boys at Turner Club near San Antonio, and provided parts a few years back to help reopen Cactus Bowl in Midland, TX — since renamed Midway Lanes. Most often, they buy parts and equipment from closed or damaged centers or those upgrading their facilities and sell to centers both directly and through the internet. For example: a former center in Sherman, TX, didn’t reopen after an ice storm collapsed the roof, so the Tuckers picked up the remnants. And once, they bought the remains of a 16-lane center in Kentucky. They’ve needed up to17 truckloads to bring the parts back to
Chris Crowley and Daryl Tucker
their compound where they keep excess equipment inside Quonset hut-like storage facilities that originally were grain barns and later used to store missiles. “We have so much stuff, we don’t know what do to with it,” Daryl said. “You name it, we try to do it. The internet has helped their business remain relevant even
as the number of centers has dropped. Interestingly, they never see some customers personally. “Probably 85% of the people we deal with we’ve never met,” said Daryl, who originally trained on AMF equipment and Danny Jr. trained on Brunswick; each brother has now learned about both. “There was one deal where we never talked to or saw the person. It was all done on the internet, and we sent a crew.” But the Tuckers do spend a lot of time talking to people by telephone, helping them troubleshoot issues and letting them know what they have available to help. “We’ve got a niche in the bowling business and kind of always have,” Daryl said. “There used to be a bunch of people out there who did this, but not too many people now.” Thanks to Chris, their nephew, it looks like there will at least be one for the next generation. ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com.
The COVID-19 economy forces Mahallâ€™s to re-imagine its possibilities
At First Glance c Shapeshifting to adapt to the times
c Finding treasure with Kickstarter campaign “Keep The Lights On”
c Creative use of spaces draws loyal customers
By Evan Henerson
Mahall’s is many things to many people.
o begins the description of a summer Kickstarter campaign for the venerable and ever-evolving Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakeland, OH. And, truer words were never spoken about a bowling center. Even during a pandemic. Especially during a pandemic. The 25,000-square-foot facility has been a gathering spot for families, an art gallery, a place to party, a rocking concert venue, and – of course – a bowling mecca. From its early years as a bowling center and billiards hall to landing on a Thrillist article as being the coolest bar in the state of Ohio, Mahall’s has been a veritable shape-shifter and a beloved one at that. You store up a lot of history and an equally large amount of good will when you’ve been a community fixture for nearly a century. “It’s this kind of chameleon of different types of events and gatherings,” said Haley Himiko Hudson Morris, an event planner and interior designer who has hosted multiple parties in the venue. “Mahall’s thrives on gatherings. It lends itself to all walks of life. It’s multi generational and there are a lot of people who identify and with its history who have grown up in the area and really cherish it.” John Mahall opened the center in 1924 and passed it on to his sons, Arthur and Cornelius, in 1958. Arthur’s son Tom eventually became the center’s third generation owner of Mahall’s. In 1960, Mahall’s acquired the building next door, connecting the two buildings with a single roof and expanding the lanes and introducing automatic pinsetters.
Husband and wife Colin McEwen and Kelly Flamos and Flamos’s former brother-in-law, Joe Pavlick, bought the center in 2012. With the new ownership came a new vision. The new Mahall’s team knew all about their center’s rich history and eagerly anticipated building a legacy for the next century. “We wanted to preserve the history and its place in the community as a hub for family celebrations, birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and a place to go bowling, a place to bowl in a league,” said Flamos. “But to insure that it could stay open for another 100 years, we expanded its footprint into the creative community by making it a live music and performing arts venue. That’s become a very key part of our business.”
Owner Kelly Flamos with her husband Colin McEwen IBI
COVER STORY from the center’s legions of friends both local and virtual. With the help of a campaign video and a lot of creative incentives for multiple levels of donations, the Kickstarter campaign “Back to Together” was launched on Aug. 24 as part of the platform’s “Lights On” component designed to sustain cultural spaces. “We decided that crowdfunding made a lot of sense,” Pavlick said, “and that by moving to a focus on events and
Vintage photo of Mahall's
Has it ever. The center has 12 publically accessible rooms in its 25,000 square feet. What had once been a billiard room became a multi-purpose music room and concert venue that could also house parties, fundraisers, and even wrestling matches. The venue’s 20 lanes are split across two floors. A 2,000-square-foot upstairs apartment space became a unit for stand-up comedy. Between the two floors, the center could simultaneously host three acts on any given night. But the road to the center’s 100th birthday hit the same speedbump that has stopped so much of the industry in its tracks: the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, for the first time in 96 years, Mahall’s closed to bowling. The business shut its doors expecting, like the rest of the world, to be back up and running quickly, but that was not to be. The center qualified for payroll protection assistance and the owners began thinking about ways that the space could transform again to operate in a COVID-19 world. In the early months of the shutdown, Mahall’s continued to provide limited takeout dining, and Flamos implemented a virtual artist talk series with local artists. The upstairs apartment unit became a space for artist Antwoine Washington and his Museum of Creative Human Art (MoCHA). Staffing would be an issue. A center that, in Pavlick’s words had “ridiculously low employee turnover” was now facing a situation where many of Mahall’s loyal staff members were reluctant to return. In July, Mahall’s set its sights on an August reopening. But that reboot would need some help
small parties and things we can control, we can build some predictability for our staff. It has definitely been a challenge to keep all of these different people engaged without the promise of full-time continued work and employment.” The “Back to Together” campaign to “Keep the Lights”
Vintage masking units
COVER STORY kid or how they used to be a bar maid here. It kind of showed us how historic and important this place was to the community.” “It took some creativity to figure out how to monetize 25,000 square
Mahall's upstairs gallery space
feet in an area with rising property values and property taxes. Now with COVID, we’ve had to pivot and flex again,” he continued. “We can’t have that 250 to 300 person concert right now. So how can we use the bowling asset in more creative ways and pair that with different types of performance and environmental design?” Since reopening in late August, Mahall’s has hosted a couple of food pop-up events, private parties, and small art openings. Bowling has also returned, with bowlers permitted on every other lane four days a week. Mahall’s has implemented advanced ultraviolet lighting systems to help keep bowling
Front desk at Mahall's
on at Mahall’s blew past its original $15,000 goal in three days, ultimately bringing in over $35,000. The nearly 675 backers are named on a “We Saved Mahall’s” plaque. Morris, who helped develop the Kickstarter campaign, was instrumental in developing relationships with many of the local artists and coming up with the rewards program and creative gifts for the donors. “We were extremely humbled by the response,” Pavlick said. “We’re just a couple of thirtysomething entrepreneurs that wanted to do something special, but this wasn’t about us. People were coming out of the woodwork with stories about how they bowled here as a IBI
The large stage area
dreams the idea of really getting creative on the bowling side and really attracting more tournaments, more leagues, more special bowling events, and things of that nature.”
A vintage bench adds charm to a cozy dining area
surfaces clean and sanitized. Capacity is reduced and extensive care is taken in handing out balls and shoes. Whatever its next stage, Pavlick envisions bowling to remain a vital part of Mahall’s identity. When he tunes into watch PBA events, Pavlick wonders whether his center might someday become the host of tournament play. “The question is how diverse can we program this space and how much can we both move forward and pay homage to our roots here in this building?” Pavlick said. “So I would include in our hopes and A mural brings awareness to the times in which we are living
“We’re very much looking forward to the next 100 years,” he added. “We just have to be on our toes and stay flexible and stay nimble and be able to pivot pretty much on a daily basis now.” ❖
Part of Mahall's overall business strategy includes retail 28
Evan Henerson is a features and lifestyle journalist who lives in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in TV Guide, American Theatre, Orange Coast and the Los Angeles Daily News where he was a staff writer and critic for nine years.
REBEL SPIRIT, PRACTICAL BUSINESS Brothers Matthew and Ben Jones bring it all to their UK-based Roxy Ball Room chain
At First Glance c Brand development
c Each location’s unique architecture
c Prebooking success with online reservations = awesome cash flow
By Paul Lane
U Joel Mitchell 30
K-based Roxy Leisure’s mission statement reads: “Roxy Leisure was founded with a rebellious spirit, going against the norms of what was around us. We are dedicated to bringing a fun experience through great gaming, great beer, great food, and great music. Our objective is to champion a competitive, socializing revolution to new cities across the country.” Brothers Ben and Mathew Jones first went into business in 2004 when they had the idea to build and operate bars and restaurants. The locations offered top quality food and beverages in settings that were a total contrast to the traditional English pub. At the time, they operated as the Jones Bar Group. In 2013, Jones Bar Group morphed into Roxy Leisure and now has nine Roxy Ball Room venues in the UK. Bowling was introduced at the Roxy Lanes venue in 2014. Joel Mitchell, the brand development manager for Roxy Leisure, says, “Splitting the company into two November 2020
The lanes at Roxy Ball Room
separate operating divisions [in 2013] allowed us to concentrate exclusively on the Roxy Leisure business. We realized we were at the forefront of the social competitive gaming scene.” It was six years before the next Roxy Ball Room venue included bowling; four lanes were installed in the Roxy Ball Room in Liverpool in 2019, closely followed by a ten-lane installation in the Birmingham location in January 2020. Why six years between venues to include bowling? Joel explains, “All our venues are housed in existing shells; one was an [un]used warehouse housing forklift trucks; one was a British homestore retail outlet; one was part of a shopping center; and yet another was
The ping pong tables are a major draw to Roxy Ball Rooms across the UK 32
a 1920s hotel. Space was the only issue we had; bowling is a massive attraction for us. We knew early on, from [our experience with] Roxy Lanes in 2014, that the need for city center bowling was there. For us, it was just about finding city center space that was big enough.” Joel continues, “We try to incorporate elements of the original shells as features, for example, exposed brick, beams, and girders.” Roxy Ball Rooms’ distinct industrial style is designed by CEO Mathew Jones. Each Roxy Ball Room venue offers a variety of competitive and social leisure amenities. The Liverpool venue features nine American pool tables, four 22-foot tournament-standard shuffleboards, six Olympicstandard ping pong tables, nine-hole indoor mini-golf, four beer pong battle stations and four full-size bowling lanes, plus extensive food and beverage service. Other venues include a mix of these same gaming features, plus an arcade loaded with 40-50 games and karaoke booths. Roxy Leisure owns their own arcade machines which enables them to rotate machines between venues. Bowltech UK Ltd is the supplier of bowling equipment for the Roxy Ball Rooms. Lanes at the Liverpool location are from System 300 in Finland, with walnut approaches and arctic birch lanes. The pinsetters are manufactured by the German company SES, and the automatic scoring system is from Steltronic in Italy. “Roxy
FEATURE Leisure is a great and extremely focused group of guys to work with. Their unique offering through the Roxy Ball Room brand is proving to be extremely popular. Bowltech UK is proud to be partnering with Roxy and continuing to provide bespoke installations with new and unique product introductions in each venue,” says Nick Keppe, managing director of Bowltech UK. Roxy Leisure will be adding six lanes to the Manchester location and another eight lanes at the Nottingham venue. This fits the company’s long-term goal of opening two new venues every year. Success in the hospitality industry relies on employees. It is in this regard that Roxy Leisure excels. Joel explains that, “What we look for when hiring new employees who deal directly with customers is a person with his or her own [unique] personality coupled with the desire to help people. Everything else can be taught. The Roxy experience is not robotic; it makes you feel at ease and the staff [is] genuinely happy for you to be there.” As for training, Joel explains that Roxy Leisure has a full onboarding and induction process. “We have the Roxy Academy,” he continues, “which is a four-week long course that employees who want a career in hospitality undertake to get to the top level of our expectations.” Employees wear Roxy branded tee shirts and aprons. Floor-tenders wear blue, bartenders wear orange, and barbacks and chefs wear black. Managers wear smart clothing of their own.
Neon designs add energy to the game rooms
Most marketing activities are managed by Joel from the head office. This includes local advertising across various media, and direct-mail targeted advertising. “Mass emailing is important and effective; we are coming up to 90,000 subscriptions and growing,” Joel says. In step with the industrywide standard, Roxy Leisure uses social media to advertise. “We recently switched to one [Instagram] account which doubled [the number of followers] in just three months,” he reported. The website has proven to be extremely effective too, which was updated to improve the customer experience. Joel said, “50% of our cash comes from pre-booking through the website.” In an old school move, Roxy Leisure relies heavily on
Table shuffle boards are another great game attraction
outside sales calls, because the team feels they get great results, especially with corporate clients. “We are the place for a corporate blow-out party, which is basically our bread-andbutter business,” Joel said. “Group bookings — corporate or otherwise — is an area where we outdo most others, as we can offer numerous gaming options in one private area.” For example, Liverpool has five enclosed game areas on different floors, and each floor has a mix of American pool, beer pong battle stations, and ping pong. Each area varies in size and can accommodate groups between 30-100 people. Each distinct floor and game area can be privately booked for parties. Unlike other entertainment spots, Roxy Ball Room’s customers have payment options: customers can choose to pay as they go, or tabs can be opened upon check-in. The customer’s bank card goes into a card safe and the customer is given the key with their tab number on it. At the end of the visit and payment has been processed, the card is returned to the customer. “We feel customers like to have choices when they visit, and we believe that giving them choices to make payment is a more customer-friendly way to do business,” added Joel. During the global pandemic crisis, Roxy Ball Rooms were affected just like everyone else in the entertainment industry. But in anticipation of being allowed to reopen, at the time of this interview, they had recalled their employees. “All staff have received their COVID-19 inductions and are back on their rosters for cleaning and additional COVID training,” said Joel. All employees have received intensive training in maintaining the highest standard of cleaning and hygiene. Each location now requires pre-booking for every attraction; under normal circumstances, reservations are not required. Since Roxy Ball Room venues are generally large, minimal rearranging of game tables and spaces was necessary to comply with the 34
government restrictions for opening. While following all of the UK’s national restrictions, Roxy Ball Rooms will implement these additional measures: ß All employees will have their temperature checked before starting their shift. ß If any employee shows signs of any illness (no matter how trivial) they will be sent home. ß Bookings are limited to a maximum of six people. ß Bowling lane bookings are limited to four people. ß A party can still book bowling lanes for six people but will be split between two lanes to ensure enough room on the ball returns for one ball per person. ß Social distancing will apply throughout the venues. ß Guests’ hands will be sanitized on entering the facility. The Roxy Ball Room website clearly describes what to expect when visiting a venue and what measures have been taken to ensure guests safety.
Roxy Ball Room developed Table Golf, a new game that is half mini-golf, half pool
Mathew and Ben Jones, along with Joel Mitchell, have achieved their objective to provide competitive, social, gamebased venues in cities across the UK. Roxy Ball Rooms are ready to roll in the post-pandemic world. ❖
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
IN MY OWN WORDS
Celebrating 60 years at Maple Lanes By John LaSpina
eptember 7, 2020, marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of the original Maple Lanes on the corner of 16th Avenue and 60th Street in Brooklyn, NY. Sometime in the spring of 1960, my parents were driving through the Brooklyn neighborhood that the bowling center was being built. A block away they stumbled upon the Brooklyn Public Library, Mapleton Branch. Neighborhoods in Brooklyn have names, ie. Flatbush, Bath Beach, Georgetown, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, etc. Each neighborhood is eight or ten blocks square. When Mom saw Mapleton, she said to Dad, ‘We’re naming it Maple Lanes! It’s your initials — PL for Peter LaSpina — in the heart of it.’ All opening day I was excited, as I had watched this place rise from my dad’s know-how: from a dirt lot to a beautiful 48-lane, ultra-modern bowling center. I was to roll the first ball that opened Maple Lanes. It was also Dad’s 52nd birthday; imagine what it took to change careers at that age? Over the years he became comfortable in his role as a bowling proprietor but he never really gave up his role as a custom home builder; contractors see within the walls, they understand what lies beneath, what holds the building up. It’s an inside out mentality. He understood stuff that I still wonder about. I reminisce about that Friday often; I can still see the grocery store cash register that was brought in by dad’s partners because they ran supermarkets. I can see the receipt paper spewing out because no one could remember how to stop it from flowing. I can see the carpet, with maple leaves, with matching design on the 36
John LaSpina ro lls the first ball do wn the lanes at opening of Map the le Lanes on Sept ember 7, 1960
walls.The mural, which Dad complained cost $600 in those days, picked up all of the colors of the center and graced the bar on two different walls for the center’s 53-year run. When we closed, I had a museum art restorer clean it and re-hang it for nearly ten times the original price, but it remains a treasure to me. I see the clock over the desk that my grandparents bought, and which will find its way to one of our centers soon. Besides my parents being there, I can see Uncle Tony Lepore, my dad’s cousin, a giant of a man, balance himself (he was no ballet dancer!) on the gutter caps, taking pictures of the center and capturing me rolling that first
IN MY OWN WORDS
Rehanging the mural from the original Maple Lanes
ball, successfully picking off the ten pins with my weak wrist bending right for that corner pin. I can see Sam Bressi, a retired mason and Dad’s night watchman. Sam did all sorts of odd jobs for Dad once we opened, eventually becoming head porter. He became like family to us. Those early days were inspiring as we didn’t know what lay ahead. My dad and his partners were true entrepreneurs, taking risks into a new venture, hoping to succeed. Thankfully in 1971, Dad struck a deal and his two kids joined him in the family business. We’ve built a reputation on our values, set in 1960, when Maple Lanes was deemed Brooklyn’s Friendliest. We were taught to: keep the bowling center clean; to build relationships; to be creative in our marketing; to give value; and to treat staff and bowlers as extended family. Not much has changed on that front, though another generation has followed me in delivering to our customers and to our staff my dad’s generous spirit and
Maple Lanes relics
kind ways, with a dose of business acumen as well. Dad had a number of sayings that explained how we make a living: ‘We will take a short-term loss for a long-term gain’ (that’s a builder’s mentality of build it right and the rest will take care of itself); and ‘Promote bowling as a life time sport because when you do, many will be bitten by the bowling bug,’ and they will carry you the rest of the way. Here’s a toast to Dad, for his wisdom, his love, and his charm, on September 7, his 112th birthday. It’s my hope that I am half the man he was when facing tough, unknown times with a smile, with smarts, and a commitment to the investment he made in a sport that many love, even in these uncertain times. ❖
John M. LaSpina is president of Maple Family Centers, a past-president of BPAA, a Victor Lerner Memorial Medal/BPAA Hall of Fame member, and currently chairs Bowlers to Veterans Link.
, t n e m e s a B e h T i m a Mi
un! for f n w p do ! Ste t u o ep p! St u p e St
By Patty Heath
asement Miami, in Miami, FL, is a subterranean nightclub that has a glitzy vibe. Tucked inside the nightclub are four lanes of bowling and a 2,000-square-foot ice rink. Both are drenched in tropical colors Ă la Miami Vice. How much fun is that? A visit to the Basement should wipe away COVID depression. â?–
SHOWCASE PRIMO SOFTWARE
Brunswick Bowling Products has announced its worldwide launch of Sync Prima™, the latest software, and Crown Advantage™, an all-inclusive center operating subscription service. Prima offers the Open Lane app, along with OrderNow for online ordering. There is also FloorPlan, a customized restaurant and center layout for best-in-class management and service. Crown Advantage’s updates brings Brunswick customers the latest and the best in business building technology and 24/7 technical support. Crown Advantage is available in multiple subscription tiers. Existing Sync customers will enjoy a complimentary trial of Sync Prima with Crown Advantage Platinum through the end of 2020, and all new Sync purchases will include a one-year subscription to Crown Advantage Platinum.
COLORFUL LIGHTING SYSTEM
ZOT ColorSplash is a leader offering truly unique LED lighting and control systems that are changing the way the industry thinks and markets business. This programmable LED lighting system provides new and existing businesses with the ability to create custom light shows comprising a myriad of colors for an all new entertainment experience, thus promoting revenue and profit. Proprietors have discovered that ColorSplash is much more than a lighting system; it’s a marketing tool that can be tailored for virtually any promotion ranging from birthday parties, corporate team building events, holidays, and major sporting events to name a few. For more information, contact Steve Szabina at (877) 236-8505; Steve.Szabina@zotcolorsplash.com, or go to www.zotcolorsplash.com.
CHRISTMAS STOCKING ORNAMENTS
Expert Hosiery is now offering Bowling Christmas Stocking Ornaments in three styles. Give them a try! Minimum order is 24 pieces, while supplies last. Centers are using these as a special touch with league bowlers and employees. They can also be a great gift card holder. Expert Hosiery is a leading specialist in basic, customlogo, and glow socks. Call (919) 799-7707; email: email@example.com or go to www.funtimefootwear.com for more information.
MOBILE APPS FOR CELL PHONES
Redemption Plus is here to support your business in all the new ways necessary as we collectively get the industry back up and running. We will continue to offer our award-winning service packages, custom design, merchandising assistance, and unmatched customer support. We are continuing to evaluate strategies that promote redemption profitability in a post-pandemic world. Through customer surveys, new prize options, and cleanliness tips, our customers will be armed with the tools and products they need to restart their redemption program. Visit redemptionplus.com for more information. As an added benefit to help in recovery, Redemption Plus’s offering 10% off your next order with code REDEMPTIONPLUS10!
With Steltronic’s Focus software, apps are available for i0S and Android mobile devices, along with desktop computer website monitoring. View your bowling game instantly on your mobile device or website after each ball is rolled. A complete history of all games bowled and individual scores are always available to share instantly on social media sites such as Facebook. For the league bowler, there are statistical and historical data for every ball rolled; averages; pins most frequently left standing; spares converted; and much more. For the open play bowler, there are more gaming-type events to challenge other players worldwide, along with the ability to win awards and prizes. We are YOUR bowling center management specialists. Call (800) 942-5939; email: info@SteltronicScoring.com; or go to www.SteltronicScoringcom. 40
IBI November 2020
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CENTER OR EQPT.
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE INFECTED with the REMODEL BUG as you FALL into League Season? ENTERTAINING the idea of a face-lift? Got you covered: A2s, parts, lanes, scoring, seating, and, of course, masks. firstname.lastname@example.org. FOR SALE: 10 pin drilling machine with vacuum system, measuring ball, scale, etc. Call Vic at (780) 454-1110. NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
CENTERS FOR SALE ILLINOIS: 24-lane, recently remodeled center w/ new parking lot. 40,000 s/f on 1.67 acres. Qubica scoring and POS system. Strong leagues w/ 900+ bowlers, also pool leagues. Sports bar & grill, pro shop, video gaming, & banquet hall w/ lots of room to convert. Owner retiring. Call (847) 613-5020 for price & info. NEBRASKA: 32-lane center, land & building. Features Brunswick A2 pinsetters, Brunswick Pro Anvilane lanes, Brunswick 2000 ball returns. Also, large lounge seating to 250; party room seating up to 80; game room, cafÃ© with established catering service. Center caters in-house and to other locations year-round. For more information, call Don Mehring, Action Holdings Real Estate, office (308) 384-3777 or cell (308) 380-0444.
EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
SERVICES AVAILABLE Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: email@example.com TOLL FREE
VISIT OUR BRAND NEW FACEBOOK PAGE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ BOWLINGINDUSTRYMAGAZINE
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
SELL YOUR CENTER OR EQUIPMENT
FAST! (818) 789-2695 VISIT OUR BRAND NEW FACEBOOK PAGE WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ BOWLINGINDUSTRYMAGAZINE AMF • BRUNSWICK EQUIPMENT COMPLETE PACKAGES WORLDʼS LARGEST NEW – USED SPARE PARTS INVENTORY ALL AMF BUMPER PARTS, XS Q-BUMP, DURABOWL AND GEN II IN STOCK
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Danny & Daryl Tucker Tucker Bowling Equipment Co. 609 N.E. 3rd St. Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-4018 Fax (806) 995-4767
Bowling Parts, Inc. P.O. Box 801 Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-3635 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
SELL YOUR CENTER
Ahh the good ol’ days! Remember when we only had to worry about a cold/flu season? This was our April selection in 2018.
1958 VICKS COLD TABLETS ith one of the worst flu seasons we’ve had in a long time, what could be more appropriate than a good cold ad spotlighting bowling. Vicks VapoRub probably goes way back in many readers’ memory banks: mom slathering Vicks on a sick child’s chest, a wool sock wrapped tightly around the throat, and a kiss goodnight. Ring a bell? In 1958, Vicks had grown up. No more greasy mentholatum rub. Scientifically engineered “double-buffered” cold tablets kept people up and moving and enjoying their favorite past time, bowling. And, in 1958-1959, there was a lot of bowling: Young American Bowling Alliance (YABA) had 217,292 members; ABC had 3,000,000, and WIBC touted 1,231,529. That’s a lot of happy bowlers who needed to stay healthy and keep bowling. ❖
- Patty Heath
The best trade magazine for bowling alleys, bowling centers and family entertainment centers FECs.