By Russ Lay on February 11, 2013
Bowling is back on the Outer Banks, and given the upgrades to the old Nags Head Bowling Center by its new owner and new operator, we might call it OBX Bowling 2.0.
Israel Golasa, a local retailer and commercial property owner, purchased the bowling alley after a local bank obtained possession following a court battle over ownership.
Golasa’s company, Beach Mart Inc., immediately began searching for an experienced bowling alley operator to reopen the facility.
Elizabeth City businessman Jeff Meads was selected to lease and operate the new bowling center, which will be known as OBX Bowling.
Meads owns Coastal Office Supply in Elizabeth City. He also owns and operates the Albemarle Bowling Center in Elizabeth City and is involved with another bowling center in Williamston.
The alley had been operating under a soft opening for 10 days, with bowling leagues and other groups coming in to assess improvements and make suggestions to the staff.
The first day the alley was open to the public was Feb. 8.
Those familiar with the old Nags Head Bowling Center will notice immediate changes. The outside has been repainted in bright colors with improved visibility from the road.
Shortly, an LED sign emblazoned with the new name will serve as a marquee.
Inside, new lighting, new tables and chairs and a spruced up main counter makes the facility “pop” and come alive.
The grill has been revamped with a new menu and a grill manager. According to Meads, “this will be a place where you can bowl and enjoy the food.”
Beer will be available and by May, the alley hopes to have a liquor license.
Long-time patrons may remember summer days with no air conditioning and winter nights with no heat. Those old units have been replaced and bowlers can now enjoy a climate-controlled facility.
The lanes have also seen significant improvements. A $15,000 oiling machine was purchased and lanes will be oiled regularly, a major improvement for league and serious bowlers.
The pinsetters have also been repaired so bowlers will not have to contend with trying to pick up spares with pins placed too close or too far apart.
Meads purchased 12 dozen new house balls to replace the old bowling balls that literally had craters pocking the exterior. Many of the balls are painted in florescent colors to take advantage of the black lights during “Rock n’ Bowl” weekends.
A new pool room with three new tables is just waiting for some league action. A brand new kids area features games for the tykes. Many of these games award the children “redemption tickets,” and the kid’s area has been moved to the north end of the facility so children redeeming prizes will not create logjams with bowlers using the counter to get shoes and pay for games.
Adult games are located near the entrance and include “all the latest and most popular” video and pinball games, according to Meads.
In fact, a pinball league has already been formed to take advantage of the new machines.
All told, the operator and the building owner, in order to make the new bowling center a destination for league and family bowlers, have invested over $225,000 thus far in improvements.
Another new addition will be the music. The center has contracted with a satellite service that specializes in bowling alleys. Players will be able to make song and dedication requests from their cell phones and hear the DJ’s play and mention those songs — usually within 20 minutes.
The music can be adapted to the crowd, so, for example, adult leagues have been treated to 70s music.
Weekend “Rock ‘n Bowl” with black lighting lanes and glowing bowling balls will return on weekends for the teen crowds, and Meads is exploring adding a live DJ to the mix.
Children’s parties will also be offered, and Meads hopes the use of the facility for parties and charitable events will pick up.
Speaking of children, the new “Dragon slide” is already a hit. Abby, who came in with her father to check out the new facility agreed to demonstrate this fun piece of equipment for our readers.
The bowling alley, like all Outer Banks businesses, will require significant local support, especially during January through March to succeed financially.
Less than a decade ago, the Outer Banks sported more league bowlers than any other place in northeastern North Carolina.
Meads is anxious to get those leagues back up to their traditional numbers. Currently, there are leagues on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and none of them are filling up the entire center.
So Meads has two messages for the local audience. First, currently there are open lanes every weeknight for non-league bowlers. Second, he wants to fill those lanes up with league bowlers Monday through Thursday.
He is hoping organized businesses such as the Realtors, Homebuilders and Chamber members will form more leagues and fill the center with much-needed off-season revenue.
Weekends will require locals to support the new business, and in the summer, Meads is making an active effort to reach out to our visitors to use the alley for family activities.
With all of these improvements, prices have gone up only slightly. Locals receive a discount and on weekdays can bowl for $3.75 a game and $4.75 on weekends.
A check of nearby centers reveals these prices are right in line with Elizabeth City and anywhere from a $1.50 to $2 cheaper per game for lanes in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
When the old alley closed, our readers filled our comment sections with lamentations about losing another local, family recreational opportunity.
The building owner, Israel Golasa and the new operator, Jeff Meads, along with his management team of have put their money at risk in the belief locals wanted to keep this type of entertainment a going concern on the beach.
If they deliver on their end, it’s up to us to deliver our votes in the form of patronizing this business.
So polish up those balls, get off that Wii machine and give this new business a whirl.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ObxBowling?fref=ts