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Thread: Your perfect bowling center?

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    Pin Crusher Phonetek's Avatar
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    Default Your perfect bowling center?

    I have a vision in my head of what "I" think a bowling center should be like. Basically it's taking the best things about every center I've bowled in and incorporating them into one, keeping in mind the worst things about them all. After that, throw in my own brand of creativity and customization to make it my own.

    If someone came to you like my friend did to help design a bowling center and wanted you to run it. Maybe you just decided to build one of your own. How would you describe YOUR perfect bowling center? What would you add? How would you decorate it? What equipment? What would you that was different from the rest to attract people to your center? Why would people want to go there? I'm just curious to see what other people's ideas are for their dream bowling center.
    Bowling Center Employee (Assistant Manager, Counter, Bartender and AMF Pinsetter Mechanic)
    Arsenal only consists of 3 balls currently "15# Hammer Rip'd (Sport Only)" & Faball Original Black Hammer (Spare Ball / Main THS) Venom Shock & 20+yr old Linds worth a mention
    Currently 535+ Rev Rate @ 19 MPH

  2. #2

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    Very simple... equipment that is well-maintained and is repaired immediately when it breaks down once. An oil pattern that is not too easy and not too hard, and changes weekly. Lanes that are checked regularly for flatness, on-spot pins, etc., and fixed when they are out of spec. Management that actually cares more about the league bowlers that patronize the establishment every week than about the open play bowlers that they fantasize would fill the house if those pesky league bowlers weren't filling up the lanes. Desk personnel who actually care about something other than collecting their paychecks. As for decorations, who cares!?!

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    SandBagger GrumpyCatFace's Avatar
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    Wood lanes, and pins, well maintained. Cozy decoration - no fluorescent animals or goofy colors. No dancing cartoons on the scoring screens, and no greasy mangled house balls. The seating should be reasonable - no swing-out chairs, and something more comfortable than McDonald’s. Maybe a nice table every pair, for eating/drinks.

    Decent food and beer selection. Not just bud/Miller crap. Actual food for adults.

    Make it a place for grown-ups.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobLV1 View Post
    Very simple... equipment that is well-maintained and is repaired immediately when it breaks down once. An oil pattern that is not too easy and not too hard, and changes weekly. Lanes that are checked regularly for flatness, on-spot pins, etc., and fixed when they are out of spec. Management that actually cares more about the league bowlers that patronize the establishment every week than about the open play bowlers that they fantasize would fill the house if those pesky league bowlers weren't filling up the lanes. Desk personnel who actually care about something other than collecting their paychecks. As for decorations, who cares!?!
    Rob's comments are right on!
    I was going to enter a reply, but I'm glad I waited for a while.
    My opinion is that it comes down to people who run the bowling alley and not the decorations or side stuff, at least not so much. I go to the lanes because I want to practice my bowling game or I'm there for the league. It would be nice if they have a decent bar though. Food and snacks are not very interesting to me. Good coffee is though especially in the morning.
    Regarding patterns for bowling changing each week. I don't know. I suppose it would be okay if they changed it up a bit to make it more interesting. It gets a bit interesting just going at different times of the day and different days of the week following quite a few bowlers having been on the lanes already. Changing the pattern a bit every now and then might be just fine.
    Maintaining the lane machine and the pin setters is key. Keeping the place clean and void of gum and Coke / beer spills is absolutely necessary.
    Counter people need to pay attention to their customers and greet them nicely. Be willing to handle issues quickly and efficiently is very nice.
    Where I typically bowl is very close to where I live and I'm very lucky that it's the best place I know of in these parts. I've learned who most of the people are who work there and we all get along just great. The pro shop guy is the best! Oh! That reminds me, you need a great pro shop operator/owner running things effectively. It would be good to have bowling coaches available to assist those who require getting started in the sport in the right direction, too. Good lighting is important especially for those of us who are older.
    Hope this helps...

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    Remove the seizure lights.
    Get rid of the loud music (or any music for that matter).

    Those two things would make any bowling center better.
    Averages: Right (THS):215 | Left (THS):175 | Sport:166 |High Game:300 | High Series:815
    Arsenal: Storm Tropical Storm, 900 Black Ops, Motiv Tank

  6. #6
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    No mega centers just well maintained clean center. Nice bar that seats about 100 people. Good food with a lot of variety. Hand made pizza. Large variety of beer. New modern scoring machines. No old beat up wood lanes from the 50's. You really don't need to change the shot a lot the weather and humidity take care of that. Besides to afford to bowl in a good money league it cost a lot of money so you have to work a lot of hours and practice is not always an option. New carpet often and cleaned often also. Safe parking lot that is well lit and has cameras monitoring. Options for house Sec. Treas. In house banking. Summer tournaments (6) for those who play Texas hold em during the leagues.

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    Pin Crusher Phonetek's Avatar
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    Thank you to everyone who has commented thus far. These are all excellent! I don't want my reply to be super long so I won't comment on EVERYTHING in one post. So far mainly it comes down to...

    1. Well maintained up to date equipment
    2. Worthy staff w/good customer service skills
    3. A comfortable place to bowl
    4. Quality food and drink
    5. Good ambiance
    6. Quality pro shop

    I am making a case to get wood lanes but from what I understand they are getting hard to come by these days. I have to do further research on the pros and cons not only for bowlers but from the business end of things. I would rather have wood any day myself (as a bowler) but I would have to see what makes the most financial sense in the long run. I already know that to do a resurface once per year costs $1k per lane so that $64k a year right out of the gate. Then every 3 years they need to be cut which is more costly. I'm not sure on the numbers with that yet. That said, it means that over a period of time doing that they have to be replaced eventually because you make them thinner each time.

    Decor I do think matters to an extent. No serious bowlers are going to want to sit in a place that looks like a circus but open bowlers aren't going to be attracted to a place that is all one color and boring. There has to be a balance to create the right ambiance that works for both. Leagues and tournaments are the bread and butter but open bowlers are also needed so you can't neglect either one. Since were doing a two sided house it does provide more options to be able to do both. Possibly be treated as two separate entities. Nobody saying they both have to look the same.

    Cosmic unfortunately is here to stay, many of us hate it but many don't. I agree on no seizure lights. I don't care what type of bowler you are, I can't imagine anyone likes lasers and strobes in their face. You're not there to dance. Black lights seem to be okay, they don't personally bother me. The only thing I don't like is the lack of being able to see the dots and arrows. However they do have them now that glow under black lights. I've never seen them but I'd have to say they would be a must. As a serious bowler I don't bowl cosmic to bowl 120. Obviously I wouldn't be shooting for blood or I wouldn't be bowling cosmic. I still want to be able to bowl somewhat normal under those lights and be able to shoot a respectable game.

    As for a changing shot, I think things like this would be a per league basis and would be worked out ahead of time to make sure it's something they want. Same thing with music and even cosmic lights. Some leagues want these things, some don't. As a good proprietor I think giving the options on a per league basis would be the way to go. It's the proprietors that force these things on leagues that lose them.

    Bottom line is you can't make everyone happy no matter what you do. A smart proprietor would do the best to make the majority happy. That means you can't be a one trick pony or your destine to fail before you start. It's all about balance as I've said.

    One other thing worthy of a mention that we are thinking of doing is setting aside 2-4 extra lanes specifically for "Elite" bowlers. For example if a pro or pro's happen to walk in the door they can do their thing without distraction. Also use them for people who want to shoot heavy duty pot games. Basically a VIP section. No extra cost or anything but at minimum card holders and up ONLY! They would also be able to request any shot they want.

    Fordman1 - I'm not sure about the Texas hold em. That may require additional licensing for the establishment because it would be gambling I think? A few card tables would be cool but I'm again I have to claim ignorance on that. It may not matter since pots are gambling and the pool hall would be too. I'll see if I can get an answer on that.
    Bowling Center Employee (Assistant Manager, Counter, Bartender and AMF Pinsetter Mechanic)
    Arsenal only consists of 3 balls currently "15# Hammer Rip'd (Sport Only)" & Faball Original Black Hammer (Spare Ball / Main THS) Venom Shock & 20+yr old Linds worth a mention
    Currently 535+ Rev Rate @ 19 MPH

  8. #8

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    There is a solid business reason for synthetic lanes: they are not flammable, therefore insurance is much, much lower for the bowling center. That's the reason that wood lanes are a thing of the past.

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    Sorry for the confusion phonetic. What it is is a game where you buy a hand before bowling. There are 22 hands at $5 per hand. The cards are displayed on a board. Everyone has 2 hole cards and the flop is shown. After the 1st game everyone who isn't within 20 pins of their average is out. After the turn and the 2nd game you must be within 10 pins. Then the river you have to make at least your avg. Best hand win $88. The extra is kept in escrow. If anyone gets 4 of a kind or better they win a grand. It is ran on every league. We usually fill up 12-13 boards every week. Money left is used for the summer tournaments. Now that is totally clear any more questions.
    I know it sounds easy but you would be surprised how many get knocked out.

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    Pin Crusher Phonetek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordman1 View Post
    Sorry for the confusion phonetic. What it is is a game where you buy a hand before bowling. There are 22 hands at $5 per hand. The cards are displayed on a board. Everyone has 2 hole cards and the flop is shown. After the 1st game everyone who isn't within 20 pins of their average is out. After the turn and the 2nd game you must be within 10 pins. Then the river you have to make at least your avg. Best hand win $88. The extra is kept in escrow. If anyone gets 4 of a kind or better they win a grand. It is ran on every league. We usually fill up 12-13 boards every week. Money left is used for the summer tournaments. Now that is totally clear any more questions.
    I know it sounds easy but you would be surprised how many get knocked out.
    Ah, yeah that's different. I've personally never seen that game. Pretty much the only card game we played on league was straight up 5 or 7 card draw. You get a card for each mark and so on. Whoever had the best had at the end won, pretty basic. I did confirm that just shooting for pots and the simple card games while bowling are fine, no license needed. However if you were to have a card table with people playing poker or other card games then you'd need a gambling license.
    Same with pool tables, no license needed.

    Rob, I forgot about the fact that wood lanes are flammable so I need to keep that in consideration for the additional insurance costs. Is the oil one synthetic lanes still not an accelerant? I never checked on the oil we use if it's petroleum based or not. When I go in on Wed to work I'll look and see what it is if I remember. Now I'm curious. I would think the insurance went down when the smoking ban went into effect.
    Bowling Center Employee (Assistant Manager, Counter, Bartender and AMF Pinsetter Mechanic)
    Arsenal only consists of 3 balls currently "15# Hammer Rip'd (Sport Only)" & Faball Original Black Hammer (Spare Ball / Main THS) Venom Shock & 20+yr old Linds worth a mention
    Currently 535+ Rev Rate @ 19 MPH

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