Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
At Crest Bowl, pins scatter across the gleaming hardwood of 32 bowling lanes equipped with up-to-date scoring equipment, lending a baritone rumble to a chorus of cheery shouts. Patrons lace up bowling shoes to improve smooth approaches and ward off sandal-model scouts. Mr. Karaoke conducts sing-alongs multiple nights a week, and cosmic bowling nights allow players to work toward a perfect game and experience the thrill of riding a comet amid upbeat music and the glow of laser lights. When three consecutive strikes put turkey on bowlers' minds, Brickhouse Pizza Company sates appetites with pizzas and sandwiches and fuels victory toasts with a full bar.
Before hosting moviegoers, the 111,000-square-foot Moolah Temple was home to a colony of pigeons. According to Amy Gill, co-head of the 1913-built temple's restoration team in 2003, the birds were "living in every crack and crevice" among debris, peeling paint, and cracked floors. Thanks to the team's refurbishing, leather couches and love seats, as well as balcony and stadium seating, now adorn the bird-free theater. Moolah Theatre only boasts a single screen, but what it lacks in quantity is made up for in size: its 20-by-45-foot screen showcases everything from the latest Hollywood releases to midnight movie staples such as The Big Lebowski.
Like "The Dude," Moolah Theatre celebrates bowling with eight lanes at its in-house retro alley. Post-flick fun can also include playing billiards, blasting tunes on the StarLink Internet Jukebox, or burping arcade games that ate too many quarters. Some lucky residents even call these amenities home—besides the theater and bowling alley, Moolah Temple makes room upstairs for 40 luxury lofts.
At this 9-acre family fun center, orb-tossers young and old drive spheres down 32 glossy lanes, and miniature-golf enthusiasts putt their way around a desert-themed 18-hole course. Tepees, outcroppings, and an active waterfall cover the pint-size fairways and greens, creating a unique layout that was named Best Miniature Golf in 2011 by the Riverfront Times.
Nearby, nine batting cages hurl baseballs and softballs at varying speeds, and three sand volleyball courts await bouts of friendly competition. Overlooking the sandy courts, an outdoor deck invites guests to lounge in the sun with casual fare from the cafe. The indoor section pumps jukebox tunes as pool balls sink into the pockets of the billiards table or a passing kleptomaniac.
The rolling thunderclaps of scattering pins fill the air at Imperial Bowl, where sphere flingers hunt strikes and spares across 30 lanes set in an ultraclean, modern facility. As bowlers attempt to stay out of the gutter like a renegade raindrop, automated scorekeeping charts the current pin count, displaying all scores on a digital screen. Imperial Bowl complements its slick lanes with entertaining extras, including arcade games, pool tables, and cosmic bowling. The alleyway also hosts leagues for casual and serious competitors alike, and a full-service bar and concession area ensures ball-free hands remain filled with beers, sodas, and snacks.
Every Saturday night, hip-hop, rock, and dance music pulsates throughout Show Me Lanes. The commanding soundtrack signals the beginning of cosmic bowling, whose games unfold amidst clouds of fog and rays of black- and laser-lights. During cosmic and regular games alike, balls hurtle down 24 lanes each equipped with automated scoring. Besides daily open-bowl sessions, Show Me Lanes hosts tournaments and leagues for adults and children. Cosmic bowling hours are Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. year round, with additional Saturday summer hours from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.