Let’s Roll: Bowlium Lanes, Montclair

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I intended to write a series of posts on bowling alleys, set up a format to do so, produced one on San Bernardino’s Arrowhead Lanes in November 2011, and then never wrote another one. Oops. Well, here’s the second in the series, and I promise not to wait three years for the next one.

Possibly my favorite local bowling alley, Bowlium Lanes offers a burst of style on a dispirited stretch of Holt, even if the enormous pole sign fell victim to sign codes a few years back. Behind the flagstones, arches and dingbats on the exterior you’ll find more retro style inside: a cozy enclosed diner and vintage signs for restrooms and cocktails.

The interior is well-maintained too. The lanes are kept well-oiled (possibly too well-oiled) and they have plenty of balls to choose from. The scoring machines are tricky to program, with directional arrows in multiple colors for navigation, and I kind of hate them. The graphics on the overhead screens are entertaining. Besides the bowling, there’s a pro shop, a bar and a game room.

Bowlium is open 9 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. That’s not 24-hour bowling, but 17-hour bowling is impressive.

Address: 4666 Holt Blvd.

Number of lanes: 32

Owner: Scott and Teresa Poddig

Year opened: 1958

Architect: Powers, Daly and DeRosa

Neighbors: vacant lot, quaint real estate office, elementary school

Games: Game room

Bar: Yes, with vintage “Cocktails” sign

Coffee shop: Yes, with counter and stools

Ambience: The Jetsons meet the Flintstones

Deal: Monday 9 p.m. to midnight: $1.25 per game, but there are more here.

Website: bowlium.com

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  • http://empoprise-bi.blogspot.com/ John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises)

    Ask your publisher Mark Givens about his former ‘zine, The Bowl Sheet.

  • SAWZ

    Its amazing that this place is still in existence, and according to your photos, it is obviously in great condition too. I was never a bowler–I was once a member of the Montclair Safety Committee, and we had our monthly meeting/breakfasts there–about 35 years ago. I think the sign should have been grandfathered.