Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm back / The end of Mel's Bowl (Redwood Lanes)

It's been another long, long gap between blog entries.  After my last entry in October 2010 AND the San Francisco Giants becoming World Champions (woo hoo!), Jeff and I had a lot going on.  A new baseball season has started as well as learning one of my favorite hangouts will be closing.

Last Sunday, I bowled at Mel's (Redwood Lanes) Bowl in Redwood City for the first time in several months.  I took advantage of an AMF coupon of $1.49 games.  It was evident I hadn't bowled there in awhile as I had practice games ranging in scores from 117 to 203.  Mike, one of the general managers at Mel's came over about halfway into my visit to tell me Mel's will officially close May 8. 

The closing didn't come as a surprise to me.  Rumors had been circulating for several years that condos would replace the lanes.  My Monday night league at Bel Mateo already have 14 additional teams signed up for league this coming fall.  Most of them are bowlers from Mel's.  I know overall league bowling has been in decline for several years, mostly because lanes shifted their focus to attract casual bowlers to help increase revenue.  Personally, I find many casual bowlers to be a nuisance (see July 14, 2010's blog entry on Bowling Lane Courtesy).

While it'll be fun to have a bunch of new/returning bowlers this coming fall, the closing of Mel's still saddens me for these reasons:  1)  Mel's was the place that started my bowling obsession (work league).  A 12-lb. house ball with scores of 129 and 132.  I bought my own ball and shoes 2 days later.  2)  I could almost always get a pair of lanes and practice without much interruption or distraction.  3)  Discounts and specials given out all the time.  Every time I paid for my games I always got more coupons for future visits.

The good news is that 2 new bowling alleys are slated to open in San Francisco sometime next year as venues geared toward entertainment.  The bad news is that it won't do much to attract folks to pursue bowling as a sport.

4 comments:

Nagarjuna said...

Lani, I am very sad to read about the closing of Mel's Bowl. I moved to Redwood City in 1974 and bowled predominately scratch leagues there for 30 years before moving to Sacramento in 2004.

In 1974, the Professional Bowlers Tour still made summer stops at Mel's, and I watched some of the greats of that era compete there. There were also wonderful scratch leagues and tournaments conducted there that filled the house for the first few years.

Then business gradually began to fade. Scratch and handicap leagues lost bowlers. I didn't see as many practicing. And, over time, new management took over that viewed bowling far more as a business than as a sport. They seemed to know almost nothing about bowling itself and appeared to care about it even less except as a means to earn money.

I knew that with the closing of bowling centers all over the Peninsula and the value of land in that area, it was only a matter of time before Mel's would be gone too. Now only Bel Mateo Bowl and Palo Alto Bowl will remain of the bowling centers I grew up bowling in: Camino Bowl, Palo Alto Bowl, Mel's Bowl, San Carlos Bowl, Bel Mateo Bowl, Nineteenth Avenue Bowl, Primrose Lanes, and Millbrae Bowl (I don't know if King's Bowl is still around in Millbrae).

But I guess this is good for Palo Alto and Bel Mateo Bowl at least. Maybe they'll get so much business from all the centers that have closed that they'll be able to stay in business from now on. I sure hope so.

Thanks for blogging about the closing of Mel's, even if it's very sad news for a guy like me who spent untold hours bowling and having fun there.

Nagarjuna said...

Oh, I forgot that I also used to bowl tournaments at Woodside Bowl in Redwood City and that it closed a long time ago.

NannyNannyNannie said...

just surfing by - Too bad about Redwood Lanes, closing in RWC - We moved from RWC in 2008. I wasn't aware that they were closing. Wow, things are really changing. I grew up in the city, Pacifica and San Mateo - raised my family and then we lived in RWC for about 6 years before moving up north. I miss the bay area, sometimes.

Anyway enjoyed it. Keep blogging.

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