Ronan bowling alley celebrates six decades of community connection
RONAN — As many Main Street businesses across the country close up shop, one family-owned establishment has managed to celebrate 60 years of success.
Lucky Strike Lanes owner Tim Corbett attributes the success of his business to simple human connection. “This is not just about rolling balls down the lanes,” he said. “It’s about community and family.”
He described the bowling alley as a type of community center that brings people together. “It’s where people can talk and have fun,” he said. “The b.s. sessions are interrupted by a little bowling.”
Corbett found Lake County records indicating that the fall of 1960 was when Lucky Strike Lanes’ doors first opened, so on Saturday, Oct. 3, six decades of business was celebrated with 60 cent bowling games and 60 cent hotdogs while music from 1960 played in the background.
“I’m having a lot of fun hitting the pins,” said Stanley Pablo, 12. He said he’s a regular at the bowling alley, along with his family. He enjoyed the food and laughed friends with Jaycen Powell, 6, and AJ Matt, 7. The boys said their goal was to get a strike.
Corbett said a lot of work goes on behind the scenes to keep the lanes open. He is regularly on site doing preventative maintenance work while his wife Lisa runs the front desk and keeps the snack bar going. She can also be seen cleaning between patrons as per COVID-19 guidelines.
“It’s a joint effort,” Corbett said.
Together, the couple has run Lucky Strike Lanes for about 25 years. Lisa’s family, the Jennisons, owned it before they took over. The tradition of recruiting family to help out has continued throughout the years. The couple also credits a “great bunch of employees” with the business’s success.
Over the years, new siding was added to the building, updated lane beds were constructed, although the original ones are still underneath, scoring has changed from pencil and paper to computer automation and new signs were added. “The pinsetters are original,” he said. “Parts have been upgraded but they are the same ones that were used 60 years ago.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed a few things. People are required to wear masks, each ball is sanitized when a person is finished with it, and instead of the traditional bowling shoes, patrons are provided with disposable shoe coverings that go over their regular shoes. When the pandemic hit in March, the bowling alley was required to close. Corbett said he usually closes for the summer so the hit wasn’t too big, but he wished league players would have been able to finish out the season. “We used the time to do maintenance on the pinsetters and we have a new sign outside,” he said of being closed. “We are open now, and people are welcome to come in.”
During the past few years, the bowling alley has been doing well with tournament play. People have traveled hundreds of miles to compete, from Salt Lake City to Canada. The concession stand has also been going so much that the original fryer finally gave up and a new one was installed. But – random visitors are far and few between.
“We don’t get a lot of traffic coming down Main Street anymore, but we are doing well with our regulars,” he said. “We have the new brewery so maybe people will start coming down Main Street again.”
As much as Corbett loves seeing family, friends and community come together, he is ready to hang up his shingle. “We put the place up for sale a few years ago,” he said. “We will keep going until it gets sold.”
In the past 60 years, the basic game has stayed the same but everything else from the material used to make the balls to the scoring system has changed. With the pandemic, many local schools are closed on Fridays so the bowling alley is also making changes.
“We will have $2 games for No School Fridays,” he said. “We’d like to get the kids involved and give them something to do. We need the next generation to keep things going, so we are looking for a way to get them interested.” Corbett hopes everyone sees the bowling alley as a way for people to connect and make life-long friendships.