Once Upon A Lane
The story of Bowlmor Lanes
In 1938 the original Bowlmor Lanes opened its doors in the heart of Greenwich Village at 110 University Place. During the golden age of bowling from the ’40s to ’60s, Bowlmor Lanes was at the forefront of the bowling revolution, hosting the prestigious Landgraf Tournament in 1942 and one of the first televised bowling tournaments in 1955. In 1958, Vice President Richard Nixon famously bowled at the lanes. Through the ’70s and ’80s Bowlmor Lanes was home to the top bowlers in the sport and became a regular hangout for village hipsters. But towards the ’90s, as the popularity of bowling as a sport declined, so did the condition of the bowling alley.
In 1994, Darden Business School Graduate Tom Shannon attended a birthday party at the then dilapidated and financially strapped Bowlmor Lanes. The young entrepreneur was instantly inspired by its character and history. Shannon, although not knowing right away what kind of challenges the current owners of Bowlmor Lanes were dealing with, knew that this was the type of place he wanted to use his creativity and instincts to transform. After three years of research and planning on how to build a viable business out of bowling, Shannon secured financing and purchased Bowlmor Lanes. His vision was to inject the tired business with hip design elements, dramatic architecture and a complete remodel of the internal operations. In essence, Shannon’s goal was to make bowling cool again.
The revamp of Bowlmor Lanes saw the installation of video screens, glow-in-the-dark lanes and lane-side food and drink service. Shannon eliminated leagues, a bowling staple that he had been told paid the rent, to ease out regulars who did not cotton to the fancy trappings or the higher prices. His vision soon became a reality.
By 1999, Bowlmor Lanes became the highest-grossing bowling alley in the United States. Today, Bowlmor Union Square stands as the longest continuously running bowling alley on the East Coast. Following the incredible success of Bowlmor Lanes in New York City, Shannon knew that he could bring the Bowlmor concept across the country and in 2001, Bowlmor Bethesda opened to accolades in suburban Washington, D.C. A year later, Strike Long Island was unveiled, a cavernous underground space housing 35 lanes of bowling, a full-service restaurant and four bars (now closed). In November 2004, the 34 lane Strike Miami opened in the Dolphin Mall in the Doral section of the city, featuring a giant, state of the art sports themed restaurant. Bowlmor Cupertino (Silicon Valley), CA opened in the summer of 2007 and Bowlmor Orange County, CA opened in the summer of 2008. In the fall of 2010, Bowlmor Lanes opened its largest, flagship, location in the former New York Times newsroom. The 90,000 sq.ft. venue Bowlmor Times Square has been hailed as the “Epcot of Bowling” and continues to be Manhattan’s premier entertainment destination. All properties now operate under the Bowlmor Lanes name.