DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - After nearly 60 years in business a Daytona Beach mainstay will close its doors for good; the last of its kind standing in the city.
The Bellair Lanes bowling alley is shutting down as of midnight Friday. Manager Marisol Moreno said the business first opened in 1959 and has had about 5 different owners at its strip mall location just off the beach; a location where they’ve been through a lot.
"We survived Charlie, Gene, Frances; those three hurricanes,” said Moreno, “the economic downturn back in 2005.”
However, owner Steve Perry said times have been tough the last 18 months or so.
"The hurricane back in October really kind of hit us hard,” said Perry.
He said they, like a lot of businesses on the north side of the beach, took on severe damage during the massive storm. Bellair bounced back quicker than many, but Perry said much of the rest of the area isn’t recovering fast enough to return the tourist and business traffic they rely on.
Then there was bad luck for the alley in May when a fight broke out inside and lead to a shooting. The incident quickly made the rounds on social media and Perry said ultimately lead to some tension with their landlord.
Plus bowling alleys across the nation are falling on hard times as crowds move to different forms of entertainment and newer alleys built inside complex entertainment venues take over the market.
As the bills piled up and the crowds just weren’t there, he decided it was time to shut down.
"I had to tell my senior league yesterday afternoon,” said Moreno. “They all started crying, just about."
Thursday night, the alley held a special customer appreciation night to send the business off with a bang. They hope the balls will roll all night Friday until they shut off the ball returns for the last time at midnight.
Perry said the mechanics of the bowling alley will likely remain, so there’s always a chance someone will try to give it another shot one day.
Daytona bowling fans will have to take their fun to Ormond Beach or one of the other alleys in neighboring towns for the time being. However the city won’t remain a bowling desert for long with a large entertainment venue -- including an alley – opening in the One Daytona development soon.