Punching the Clock: Days of Our Lanes

When I was in high school, Rock-n-Bowl at Plaza Lanes was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. It was less about the bowl and more about the social scene, but that didn’t mean we weren’t lacing up the rental shoes and scouring the racks for a ball that fit our hand. Preferably one that didn’t have “Butch” engraved in it.

Yes, I have fond memories of the crashing pins, colored lights and teenage angst. And those memories all came rushing back when I stepped into the center on Wednesday.

Of course, the center itself has changed a lot since those days in the late 80s and early 90s. Brian Quanne, who bought the center in 2003, has done a significant remodel. New carpeting, a fresh paint job, colorful murals and automatic scoring have given the 49-year-old center a cleaner, more modern look.

General Manager Mark Ewen has helped bring about that change. He said the facility’s facelift has helped focus the business back on families and kids and both open bowling and birthday parties have increased.

That’s not to say that those casual bowlers are replacing league bowling. Leagues remain important, said Mark. In contrast to most of the country’s centers, Plaza Lanes has actually seen an increase in its league bowling over the last four years.

I caught up with Mark while he was checking in bowlers for one of those leagues, the center’s Wednesday afternoon senior doubles program. We chatted casually with the league members, collected weekly bowling fees and answered questions about changes to the league schedule for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I was shadowing Mark, who was pulling double duty as front desk and mechanic for the 18-team league. I was secretly hoping for some serious lane problems, so I could get a good look at the behind-the-scenes portion of the center. Unfortunately for me (but good for the bowlers), Plaza Lanes doesn’t have that many lane problems. And the reason why, was standing beside me.

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