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.
Aloma Bowling Centers promotes friendly competition and pin-scattering fun with three locations that encompass at least 32 lanes apiece. The largest of the three strike-and-spare hotbeds, Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center, sports 80 lanes inside a massive facility that hosts more than 100 arcade games, a mini golf course, and a comedy club that features up-and-coming comedians. At all three locations, guests can salute closed frames and lament gutter balls over a dish from the onsite grill or a beverage from the full-service bar.
When Joseph Olear tore down the original Three Point Bowling Center, he preserved what mattered most. ”We recycled the 35-year-old maple lanes and made a bar out of it,” he happily explains. “And also this gorgeous desk in my office.” The former alley was bought out by Joe’s father in ’86—a spontaneous decision that still perplexes the son. He “just bought the place! If you’d have told me we’d have a bowling alley, I’d have thought you were crazy.” That said, it’s a decision that gave Joe the reins to a facility he would totally revamp.
The updated alley features 16 automatic lanes, one of the largest bars in Kansas City, and a large crop of vine-ripened bowling balls. Olear has also solicited the master food stylings of chef Dan Cermeno for juicy burgers, steak-filled sandwiches, and spicy seafood pastas. He explains that Cermeno’s dishes—available at the alley or in Three Pins Diner—are by no means typical alley fare. “He’s a shopping king,” says Olear. ”On his way in, he stops to shop. [Always] fresh fruit and veggies—wherever the freshest stuff is.”
Beyond the lanes, Three Point entertains patrons with six full-size pool tables, dartboards, indoor and outdoor TVs up to 64 inches wide, as well as nightly league events. The revelry also extends outdoors, where an expansive outdoor deck patio hosts a meat smoker capable of feeding parties of up to 500. “There’s a guy comes in at first light and smokes the meat, “says Olear. “Venison, ribs, whatever he has. It’s in there for about 10 hours. It’s unmatched, really.” Wonderful as that is, there’s one thing Joe enjoys more. “Having a drink at the bar,” he says, smiling. “People will say they met their wife here. It happens on a fairly regular basis—someone comes in and says how nice the place is. It really makes your day.”
Backstage Billiards I-Drive's name certainly doesn?t bury the lede??beginners and pool sharks alike can rack up games on any of the bar's 24 Brunswick tables. At the same time, it doesn't encompass the myriad billiards alternative patrons can enjoy, from hitting bullseyes on seven electronic dartboards to sinking holes-in-one during rounds of Golden Tee or cornhole. For those who prefer spectating, 20 plasma-screen televisions stay tuned to the day's biggest games and most heartwarming huddles. Amid all this sports?centric revelry, bartenders serve beverages in ice-cold mugs as well as mixed drinks from behind a 55-foot, full-liquor bar every night until 2 a.m.
The WhirlyDome is a flurry of light and activity. Engines roar in a Formula 1 simulator, video games beep and hum in the arcade, and lasers ricochet in the laser-tag maze. The dome?s core attraction, however, is WhirlyBall, billed as the world's only mechanized team sport. Players try to shoot wiffle balls into elevated goals as they steer bumper cars across the dome's two 4,000-square-foot courts. Dubbed WhirlyBugs, the electrically powered vehicles can reach speeds of up to 5 miles per hour, like turtles who are running really, really late.
The Formula 1 racing simulator is another popular attraction. All-enveloping television screens surround riders with a realistic reproduction of the racing experience, from steering around sharp turns to suddenly braking as a promising young brain surgeon crosses the street. Competitors scamper through swirling haze in the laser frenzy, or they encounter simulated ocean creatures during rounds of undersea-themed laser tag. In between activities, players pop in and out of the onsite Bloodhound Brew Pub & Eatery, where bartenders pour drafts of local craft beer to pair with pub food, from rolls to burgers served with crispy waffle fries.