Endless Fun! promises a chalkboard outside of Bowlmor Lanes flagship Union Square location. It's ironic, and perhaps a little sad, since the fun is actually ending - the historic establishment will officially shut its doors Tuesday.
“This is a very sad moment for the entire company," says Colie Edison, vice president of marketing for Bowlmor. "[Bowlmor- Union square] was the heart and soul of our company, a true New York destination. Everyone’s devastated to see it close."
The closing marks the end of more than seven pin-filled decades at the longest continuously running bowling alley in the Northeast. Edison said that the location is shutting its doors because they could not get their lease extended, and like many a New York story, the landlord plans to convert the lanes and parking garage into luxury condos. Bowlmor has no plans to open another location in New York (as they already have alleys in Chelsea Piers, Times Square, and in Melivlle on Long Island).
Soon after Bowlmor opened in 1938 during the golden age of bowling, it attracted an athlete and celebrity clientele, famously including then-Vice President Richard Nixon, who visited in 1958.
But by the beginning of the 21st century, bowling had lost its cachet and Bowlmor had fallen into disrepair.
It took a full scale renovation in the '90s for Bowlmor to remain in business.
The current iteration of Bowlmor is now reminiscent of a night club, with a dress code, dim lighting and pulsating music to match. The makeover paid off, and Bowlmor became the highest-grossing bowling alley in the country, with branches in Times Square, Chelsea Piers, and out-of-state in Maryland and California.
New owners bought the property in 2012 for conversion into into luxury condos, and construction is set to begin immediately. While residents and nearby business owners seem ambivalent to dismissive about the toursity, neon amusement Bowlmor marketed for high prices, many are miffed at the future construction plans. The East Village Blog EV Grieve laments that “Bowlmor lanes will convert to condos, like everything else around here.”