Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Centers reverberate 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, which allowed the teens who had previously been hand-setting the pins to focus on perfecting their jazz hands for upcoming street rumbles.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. They attempt to knock them down during leagues, club play, and events such as birthday parties and fundraisers.
Between frames, AMF keeps players energized at onsite food zones stocked with wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
Yorktown Lanes boasts 40 lanes, each of which is equipped with automatic scoring systems. Just beyond the lanes' edge, a lineup of colorful vinyl chairs adds a touch of vintage class. And inside the newly renovated bar onsite, bartenders liberally pour spirits, draft brews, and other fine beverages. The alley also hosts birthday bowling parties in one of two private rooms, including a banquet hall that can host wedding receptions or graduate seminars on the difference between duckpins and regular bowling pins.
At each of its Cleveland-area locations, Freeway Lanes allows bowlers to hone gutter-hugging curves. In addition to traditional, tenpin lanes, the alleys host indoor bocce ball courts and pool tables for players tired of breaking cues on 16-pound balls. Their expansive facilities also feature modern bowling amenities along with HD television screens and full-service restaurants. League opportunities are available for children, adults, and seniors and live bands frequent the alleys, filling the air with original melodies and providing just enough bass to knock down wobbling pins.
At Fairview Lanes, balls thunder toward targets along 20 contemporary lanes, buffeting between bumpers or freewheeling by gutters during open bowling hours. At MoonRock bowling, pulsing music and radiance from lasers, disco balls, and black lights slice through darkness like the DJ's night vision goggles. On Friday and Saturday nights the music borders on edgy, but special glow bowling hours held during the day on Saturday and Sunday feature family-friendly music and videos. Café 220 stokes athleticism with fuel in the form of beer-battered cheese fries and fried pickle spears, and Mac's Pro Shop supplies essential bowling gear. The alley also hosts leagues for all ages and parties for any occasion.
CoolCleveland.com credits new owners Joe Pavlick and his sister-in-law, Kelly Flamos, with restoring Mahall's 20 Lanes to its former glory. Kelly, Joe, and Joe's wife, all Ohio natives, swooped in and resurrected the once flourishing alley with a fresh infusion of flair. In addition to an expanse of 20 lanes that sparkle between exposed-brick walls, they also refurbished two bars, a dining area, a stage for musical acts with "Mahall's" emblazoned in the background, and pool tables. Locals crowd around tables in the restaurant, chugging brews and chowing down on elote, a grilled ear of corn rubbed with spices. The walls flaunt a mural obscured for years by wallpaper, which Joe and Kelly uncovered during the restoration process. In the lanes, the old-timey method of manual scoring helps the alley maintain its vintage aura and makes automatic counters obsolete.
The clatter of pins ripples through Cloverleaf Lanes, which proudly plays host to the longest-running American bowling tournament. But one need not be a pro to fling a ball down these lanes. Ample open bowling times mean that even newbie bowlers get a chance to experiment with bowling grips, whether using three fingers, four fingers, or their feet. Between games, guests can perch on one of the chrome stools at the snack bar or quaff a tasty brew chosen from the lounge's beer menu.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that compose America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $6.98 value) in its hallowed halls while wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (a $3.25 value).