The only sounds louder than balls smacking into pins at Midway Lanes are the groups of people cheering each other on. The bowling alley incites some friendly competition accented with high-energy tunes and a spinning disco ball. Beer pours freely from the bar, and chefs whip up daily specials that range from stuffed jalapeno burgers to pulled pork sandwiches. And on Sundays, the alley hosts Bingo and opens a bloody mary bar that provides guests with all the ingredients necessary to concoct their own mixed drink in a chilled glass.
King Pin Management LLC nurtures and guides three restaurants and a dozen bowling centers all across Wisconsin, including King Pin Bowl. Their staff consultants and accountants track all these operations, tallying every penny while auditing employee performance. In addition, training instructors travel around to give employees refresher courses on proper workplace conduct, while menu developers help make restaurant offerings more taste bud-friendly. Not even pinsetters and floors escape the staff's attention?technicians comb every bowling lane and machine to root out faulty wiring and make sure new pin system computers know how to form a perfect triangle.
Each facility in the family of Rockford-Area Bowling Centers enlivens the classic game of bowling with its own signature amenities. On Friday evenings, the staff at Don Carter Lanes temporarily extinguishes its warm, vintagey glow and replaces it with a dimly lit club atmosphere as DJs from 97 ZOK descend upon the alley, pumping out beats that mingle in the air along with a light and fog show. For supplementary entertainment, the Don Carter location also offers a gaming center, and the Park Lanes alley recharges guests with beer and deep-fried fuel at its onsite pub. The Cherry Bowl location keeps serious bowlers properly outfitted with a pro shop, saving them the hassle of paper-mâchéing their own heads to form makeshift bowling balls.
Open since the 1950s, B & B Park Bowl—the oldest bowling center in Loves Park—proves that some things stand the test of time. Owner-operator Butch Olson, a veteran bowler, has also played here for years, and he strives to make the alley a family-friendly destination. To that end, the eight Brunswick Anvil lanes boast 12-strike auto scoring systems, bumpers for the little ones, and rental shoes that start at toddler size 9. On the weekends, the lights dip low for glow-in-the-dark bowling. The onsite bar serves drinks as well as hot sandwiches and, on Friday nights, hearty dinner entrees.
During galaxy bowling, Cadillac Lanes turns futuristic with the help of a space-age-evoking light and sound show. Even under the glow of traditional lighting, the alley brims with modern technology, such as automatic scoring and retractable bumpers. A trove of lightweight to heavy bowling balls allows players of all muscle masses to scatter pins without straining their muscles. In between 10-frame games, patrons can maneuver joysticks in the arcade or refuel at the snack bar. The venue also welcomes birthday celebrations with party packages complete with decorations that create a joyful atmosphere, rather than celebrating with impromptu bowling-ball confetti.:m]]
All of Badgerland Bowling Centers' six locations have a lot in common. At each location, groups hurtle colorful balls down slick, glossy lanes, refueling at an onsite restaurant between matches. All of the alleys host birthday, work, and fundraising parties and tournaments such as the Badgerland Bowling 300 Club—which has doled out more than $35,000 in cash prizes since 2002—and the Badgerland Open, which welcomed 113 competitors in 2011, one of whom snagged a grand prize of $500 and 1,000 bragging rights.
But like sextuplets working undercover for the CIA, each center also maintains a unique identity. At Badger Bowl in Madison, live musicfloods the lanes on weekends, and dancers jump and jive on West Coast Swing nights on Wednesday. Nearby at Dream Lanes, laser and disco lights slice through fog amid thundering music during Ultra Bowling every Friday and Saturday evening.