After 60 years, Tacoma bowling alley plans to close

TACOMA, Wash. – It’s the end of an era for a family business in Tacoma’s South End neighborhood.

Pacific Lanes Bowling Center will likely soon be torn down to make way for new apartments, but that means an end to a local business and its six decades of service in Tacoma.

“It’s not going to be here anymore, that’s sad to me,” said general manager Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton has been working at his parent’s bowling alley since he was 19. They bought pacific lanes in the 1980’s but the neighborhood fixture has been around since 1959 – and so have some of its players.

“It’s a family-oriented atmosphere,” said bowler Jeannine Mott. “I know that sounds cliché but it’s really true.”

“We’ll miss it,” said customer Don Meyer. “It is what it is, you can’t do anything about it.”

“It’s been a great run, I’ve had a lot of good years,” said 84-year-old bowler Larry Van Cleave who has been throwing strikes since 1962.

“It’s just sad to see all these bowlers go because it is a good past time,” he said.

Part of the problem, says Hamilton, is the bones of the operation. The machines in the back were installed in 1959 and coming up with replacement parts is almost impossible. That and the price to upgrade would cost millions, he says they’d have to increase prices, which would likely push out their regulars.

“You can come here with your wife and kids and bowl for 30 or 40 bucks,” said Hamilton.

In about 60 days, Hamilton says the lights will go out, the lanes will go quiet and the thirty people working here will have to find new jobs.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said employee Kristina Evans. “It makes me sad that it’s going to close its doors and it’s not going to be around anymore.”

“It’s sad but I’m trying to remember the good times,” said Hamilton. “I’m trying to be upbeat about it. I’m seeing people that are coming back to say goodbye.”

And when it finally closes a slice of Pierce County history will disappear.

“It’s disappointing,” said Meyer.

Hamilton says the bowling alley is expected to close in May.