Bowlero Lanes Closed; Customers Upset
POSTED: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 6:31pm
UPDATED: Sunday, June 5, 2011 - 11:26pm
EL PASO - Bowlero Lanes has been open for decades, and now that it's shutting down, locals are devastated to see it go.
"They couldn't get away from the atmosphere here, and it's not like any of the other bowling alleys," said Stanley Gilchrest, who said he's been coming to Bowlero Lanes for over 15 years.
"It's my second home. A lot of memories, that's the big thing, the memories. The bowling, that was just part of it. It was seeing the people...and you know you'll never see some of them again, because you don't have that meeting place anymore," added Gilchrest.
Stanley said he used to spend five days a week at the bowling alley, and that Friday nights were always a strike.
"We'd come in and bowl then we'd go in the bar and sing karaoke till 2 o'clock in the morning," Gilchrest said.
To many people, the memories at Bowlero Lanes are priceless, but the owners couldn't afford to keep it open anymore.
David Zapatka's family had been running the business for the past 30 years, but there was nothing they could do to keep the place from closing.
"We tried to tough it out the last five and a half years, and we just couldn't tough it out anymore. We were actually using our own money to keep this place operational, and finally, our wallets are bled dry," Zapatka said.
The electricity bill alone was $6,000 a month, and at a buck a game, their money was going down the gutter.
Even though it seems like a total loss for the community, Bowlero Lanes is giving everything from their TV screens to tables and chairs for a good cause.
"We want to keep it here in the community as much as we can and that's why we got with the churches, I got with some military units as well so I can donate as much as I possible can to them. We're going to give more away than sell," Zapatka said.
No one knows what will become of the building yet, but David is ensuring the next business will also give back to the Northeast, like their bowling alley did.