GREEN BROOK — Ron Lichtenberger, the district manager for the ultramodern Bowlmor Green Brook, calls it the "zombie walk" — a wide-eyed, jaw-dropping reaction sparked by his bowling alley's makeover.
Modernized during a recent facelift, the bowling center known for nearly 50 years as Strike N Spare is not only a bowling alley now — it's also a nightclub, a bar and an interactive arcade all wrapped up into one colorful neon package.
Bowlmor, which is the largest operator of bowling centers in the world with more than 7,500 employees and 272 bowling center, is spreading its groundbreaking approach to bowling in New Jersey.
It's Green Brook location is the first in the state to get revamped but Bowlmor next plans to remake the 84-lane Brunswick Zone Carolier Bowl in North Brunswick.
"People are blown away went they first come in, especially if they were here before the renovation," said Lichtenberger. "They have a jaw-dropping response. It's like 'Oh my God.' They're walking in and looking all around."
Bowlmor gives former Green Brook location a new look and experience
Bowlmor AMF, the world leader in bowling entertainment, opened its first New Jersey location in Green Brook following a 4-month, multi-million dollar renovation. In addition to bowling alleys, Bowlmor includes an interactive arcade, food and drink selections and superior service. (Video by Andre malok | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
From its centerpiece full-service island bar to its glow-in-the-dark lanes to its cushioned seats and television in each lane to its giant 24 14-by-12 foot televisions over the lanes and to its state-of-the-art arcade, there's something for the everyone from the Wall Street executive to the kid next door.
"Some people come here to eat and drink and don't even bowl," said Lichtenberger. "We have restaurant-quality food. It's incredible. Everything is fresh. We have lane service just like you're at a restaurant.
"Our bar seats 60 people with six 65-inch televisions for patrons to watch. We've taken the sport of bowling and changed the wrapper, enhanced the experience. There's not a sports bar that can complete with this."
Lichtenberger said Bowlmor merged with AMF, the owners of Strike N Spare, two years ago. In May 2015, they closed the facility and gave it a facelift, turning it into a 48-lane bowling palace.
The facility, which has league bowling, senior leagues and women's leagues, is so chic and ultramodern with its wood vinyl floors, granite-filled restrooms and front-door coat check that it hosts bridal showers and bachelor parties, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties and corporate outings.
"Everybody can bowl," said Lichtenberger. "I've seen some of the stuffiest people you can imagine and you get them on the lanes and they transform. They're out there laughing, exchanging high-fives, having a good time. You should see the smiles."
Chicken wings in a variety of flavors — such as garlic and Parmesan cheese, mango chipotle, and lemon pepper — are the signature item on the menu.
There's also five-pound burger called the Behemoth Burger, a two-foot long hot dog named the Coney Mega Dog and pizza as well as a more upscale menu available for catered events.
Lichtenberger said the remodeling of the company's bowling alleys began in the 1990s. Bowlmor has similarly-designed bowling centers in New York's Union Square and Times Square.
In Green Brook, the cushion seating and small oval-shaped tables are a stark contrast to the traditional hard, horseshoe seating at bowling alleys and gives patrons the feel of a romantically-lit nightclub booth, not your parent's old-school Strike N Spare.
"It's like you're in your own little world," said Lichtenberger. "On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, it's like mayhem in here. We're so busy. People are three-deep at the bar. Everyone is just having a great time. You can't go to a sports bar and find this atmosphere and have this much fun."
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