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Author Topic: How not to run a bowling center - opinions  (Read 8383 times)

Rodimus

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How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« on: April 28, 2003, 03:35:46 AM »
Let me preface this by saying there's a chance that I'm a little spoiled.  My hometown of a mere 60k people has two centers, both of which are very nice and one of which has nearly all the latest Brunswick furnishings and is maintained near perfectly.

Now, I go to college in Raleigh, NC.  For those of you who don't know, Raleigh probably has a surrounding population of about 200,000 (not including Durham).  

My University is literally right across the street from a bowling alley, and when I first came up here I thought "Oh, cool...I'll bet lots of college folks hang out and bowl here.  That should be fun."

Guess what?  They don't.  As a matter of fact, I'm finding out that about the only reason that the house even stays open is because of the bowling fee that students in the bowling classes have to pay.  I'm currently in one of these classes.

"Well why would a house that's right across the street from 28,000 college-age kids not flourish," you ask?

Where to start....

First, this house hasn't had ANYTHING new come in the door as far as equipment, house balls, rental shoes, lane prep/upkeep, or even pins since the 70's.

As far as oiling patterns, I don't think they have any.  I think they just have JoeBob get out there with the old 1960's oiling machine and "do whatever."  One of the supposed expert technicians actually furrowed his brow at me when I asked him if they had put down a Christmas Tree pattern and how far down it was.

Today when I was bowling I threw what looked to be a great pocket hit, but instead of that "clush" sound, I heard the "clud" sound of a ball hitting pins that have been broken and glued together.  It sounded remarkably like the sound a baseball bat makes when it breaks.

The stake through the heart, though, is the management.  One of the owners yelled at a ten year old kid one day because he threw at a pin that had fallen outside of the sweeper and was laying on the lane.  I know that what the kid did was wrong, but geez...don't yell at him.  

That's not all though.  This management "team" makes you feel like it's some kind of burden for them to let you bowl in their house.  If it weren't for the awesome cafe at this place, I'd never EVER set foot in there outside of class.  For as bad as AMF houses can be sometimes, at least their employees (around here at least) fake caring.  It's a lot more expensive there (4.50/gm as opposed to 2.50/gm), but the convenience is soooo worth it to me.


So I don't know.  Is this typical of any places around you guys (and gals)?  Am I just spoiled by a good house near my hometown?  Maybe after I save and invest some money (we're talking 20 yrs here now) I could look into buying and revamping this alley.  It just seems to me that there's no reason why all 24 lanes shouldn't be packed with so many college folks in the vicinity.


 

Kevin

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2003, 07:09:09 PM »
We have one that if you are not in their leagues and a regular, they aren't to friendly. I Bowl at the AMF just 6 miles down the street because of that.

Bjaardker

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2003, 07:40:26 PM »
How not to run a bowling center?

Walk into 90% of the AMF centers I've been in & the answer will present itself with total clarity.

mumzie

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2003, 07:42:32 PM »
I had my office right across the street from a center in Nevada, and I drove clear across town just to practice. I bowled city tournament at the house across from my office. Doubles & singles was there. I bowled doubles, then left before singles, because my equipment was filthy, and getting badly torn up.
This was the house that the local ABC reps didn't even want to certify, because of the quantity of rat droppings in the machinery.

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Rodimus

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2003, 08:12:04 PM »
see, the funny thing is that my one experience with a local AMF center has been light years better than this independent house.  Like I said, if a person came in with the commitment of $1MM or so they could make this place the best and busiest house in the city.

Rodimus

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2003, 08:16:57 PM »
I should also say that while this house ticks me off royally, I did manage to throw a 179 with a good ole house ball last Wed (high score in my class that day).  So maybe they're only 99.99999999% bad.

Jerry Weller

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2003, 08:58:45 PM »
Let me ask you a few questions Rodimus...

1) Are all the pins old and beat up, or do they just use certain lanes for the college bowling classes?

2) What are the rest rooms like?

3) Are the tables clean?

4) Regarding the old lane machine, putting out a Xmas tree pattern would take a few runs and changes of shims. They probably aren't going to do that and really I don't blame them for that. If they can put out a tophat the scores ought to be plenty high.

5) Are the lanes clean? Or do your hands and shirt get filthy while you're bowling?

Just curious to figure out how bad the place really is...




Rodimus

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2003, 09:15:16 PM »
I'll answer these as best I can:

1.  Our class is about 30 people, so we generally use lanes 1-15 or so.  When our class is in session they put people down on the far end.  I'm not certain how beat up those pins are, but I have noticed that the worst pins seem to be between 7 and 12.  The whacky thing is that on some lanes that we regularly use the pins are jumping all over the place and on others they sound and deflect like broken bats.

2.  The restroom is useable, but that's about it.  Not the filthiest in the world, but it's pretty dingy.

3.  The tables are barely standing up, but there's not giant dirt stains on them.  The carpet in this place, however, looks like it is about to disintegrate at any second.

4.  I don't know a whole lot about oiling patterns.  That's why I was surprised when the technician looked at me like I was making something up when I said "Christmas Tree."  I was more shocked that he seemed unfamiliar with the term than I was that they weren't laying that out.

5.  Well I'm not really certain about this.  I hardly ever touch my clothes when I bowl, but I'll pay more attention next time.  Peoples' balls don't really get torn to shreds or soiled much though.


On a slightly unrelated note, my teacher has paired us off into teams and has us bowling an in-class "mini-league."  One of the teams that we bowl against has a guy that is notorious for 1) getting up onto the approach while I'm set and about to push away and 2) sliding well over the foul line (we're talking three to five inches or so here).  Apparently none of the foul line buzzers are on or working, and I told my teammates that we should call him on it but they blew it off.  My question is this:  should I bring this to the attention of my teacher?  I don't want to be a "tattle tale," but I'm an EXTREMELY competitive person by nature and even though we barely outbowled them I find it unfair that they're ahead of other teams in the standings when half of this guy's shots shouldn't count.

cgilyeat

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2003, 04:04:05 AM »
dizzle247,  your profile says you from WA, since I was raised on the west side of the Puget Sound, and still get back ocassionally, how about giving us the name of the place.

Rodimus

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2003, 08:33:32 AM »
When possible I go out to AMF South Hills (about 3 miles away) or Buffaloe South on occasion.  I'm actually taking my ball to get drilled at AMF Pleasant Valley up in North Raleigh this week.


Whatever you do though, beware of Western Lanes!

michelle

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2003, 10:10:52 AM »

While I am not going to attempt to argue the point about the center Rodimus cites being a dump, I have a couple of observations about the additional comments.

1) If the pins on lanes 7-12 are the "deadest," I have to wonder if those are the lanes closest to the desk and likely often the ones used most often for open play.  I know when I worked in a small independent center, it was not uncommon for lanes 9-16 to get the most lineage due to being in front of the desk.

2) With an older Century machine, it is not unexpected that a mechanic/laneman won't be familiar with more common conditions by name.  On the Century machines, it was more a matter of where you wanted the shims and make sure you cycled the buffer bar through before running the first lane (else you have one very toasty lane condition).  If you wanted a heavier pattern, you double ran the lanes.  

Independent centers can be very good or umm...not so very good.  It all depends on the proprietor.  In a center like described here, chances are good most of the expense is related to day-to-day operations with the equipment being paid off long ago.  If they spend money to upgrade, then the lineage also goes up, which then has the potential to drive some people away.  While the improvements might bring in more traffic, such is not guaranteed...so the proprietor sits on the known profit.  

And yes, the good houses will spoil you...makes no matter if it is a large facility in a metropolis or a small 8-lane facility in the middle of nowhere.

dicnic

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2003, 11:02:15 AM »
The 32 Lane house that I call my "home" lanes is an AMF center. It is not fancy, in fact, it needs some cosmetic upgrades, but everybody who works there is really nice, they treat league bowlers well, it contains a great pro shop, and the food is passable and reasonable. It is easily one of the more popular bowling centers in our area, primarily because of the folks. They take good care of the lanes and machinery too, even if it is showing its age. It caters to the seniors during the day (lots and lots of seniors in SE Florida) and has very fair league prices.

So for an AMF house, it seems better than average, in spite of its slightly shopworn appearance.
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squeaky2

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2003, 06:13:29 PM »
I have to agree with Dizzle on Spin Alley. There are more than 4 houses in Washington that are wood, but the good ones are few and far between. Spin Alley is hated by everyone who actually can bowl. The foul lights.........hmmm wait I remeber that was the reason why we aren't bowling there for Highschool. they have 16 lanes and if I remember right......only 5 of those fouls lights worked. Um lane 10 cover for the light on the foul lanes (can't remeber the techinal term) was missing. No oil at all, they had no oiling machine. In oreder to put ypur names in, only one or two scorers that actually let you do this, the rest of them were "temporary out of order." You had to go to the dsk and tell them what to put in and half them time they were listening and they spelled everything wrong. I remeber one time, my brother's friend had to wait 25 minutes for his ball to come back and when it did.....it had a huge chunk taken put of it. They don't have a pro shop so he had to get his driller to fill it in for him. The gates will come down in the middle of your approach (for a fast bowler). They floors are wet in areas and managent doesn't even care. The restraunt.......well I cook better and I don't cook. The new managent wants to change everything, but the owner doesn't want to put the money in to this place.  

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ambi1

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2003, 11:01:29 PM »
Rodimus - about your classmate crossing the foul line.  I would be more concern about him leaving oil on the approach and causing an accident than being competitive.

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Jerry Weller

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Re: How not to run a bowling center - opinions
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2003, 03:07:22 AM »
Here's my nightmare center - based off real experiences while bowling there over the course of a seasons with only occasional visits afterward. You'll understand why after you read...

The Negatives:

Parking Lot - cracked all over, unlevel, etc.

Tables: Strewn with garbage, smeared with ketchup. Sometimes, not one clean table visible in the entire place.

Smoke filters insufficient to task at hand

Rest Rooms: NO PAPER PRODUCTS. Large pool of water about 3 inches deep on floor near urinals.

Lanes: DRY and dirty. Hands got dirty while bowling. Balls came back with black, grease-like residue smeared on them.

Ball Returns: Generally operative except for 11 & 12 which the league had been requesting repair of for 3 seasons at the point I bowled there.

Sky high concession prices

The Positives:

Installation of synthetic lanes. (I had no complaints with the wood lanes themselves... but the synthetics were reputed to be higher scoring. When properly dressed they were)

Good scoring units

Decent pins

A few counter people who actually knew how to bowl.

Cosmic Bowling (No biggie to me, but I know there are people who want it)

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The owner? I bet you guys know all ready - but yup - AMF.