by Nick Archacki, news editor and avid bowler
As a high class bowler, I have seen all types of bowling establishments across the United States in my sixteen years of competing in the sport. There are many definitions that can describe the appearance of a bowling center, but three significant words that stand out to me are: uniqueness, attributes, and downfalls. Throughout the years, I have seen centers rise and fall, thrive or fail. Theoretically, the appearance of a bowling alley affects customers’ and bowlers’ attitudes the moment they walk through the door, which can directly affect the bowling center’s profit and popularity.
Unfortunately, Plaza Lanes in Meadville has struggled over the past five years to bring in both revenue and bowlers. Many attribute this to the lack of funding put into maintenance after a fire burnt Plaza Lanes to the ground in April of 2001. Along with the lanes being closed multiple days of the week for two straight summers, the center has struggled with the additional loss of a fully functional restaurant and bar inside the building.
However, a brand new chapter of our community’s history has already begun, and the center’s future looks promising. After finalizing the anticipated sale on Aug. 24, Kurt Baird and Ramon Rodriguez are the new owners of Plaza Lanes. Baird and Rodriguez moved from Miami to Meadville and are excited for their new future as the owners of Plaza Lanes.
“We were looking to change our living situation from big city to a small town, and being the new owners of Plaza Lanes is just what we were looking for,” Baird said. “Buying the center fits well into our prior job experiences and this new start to our lives has combined many of our goals together, it’s a dream come true for both of us.”
Baird and Rodriguez mentioned that they have large shoes to fill with the purchase of Plaza Lanes, but they are ready to handle the new challenges and opportunities that will be presented to them in the upcoming years. “Our priorities are to make the bowling center the best it can be for our league/recreational bowlers and employees by making the building a clean, fun, family environment,” Baird said. “Seeing people having a good time is golden for us and when they thank you back for what you’ve provided for them, it feels great.”
Baird and Rodriguez, along with their family members, have resolved many of the center’s previous aesthetic issues. “We have pressure washed the outside of the building, acquired brand new bowling pins, rearranged the seating, cleaned the carpets, cut tall grass, trimmed bushes and trees along with building a new restaurant menu,” Baird and Rodriguez said.
The Plaza Sports Den, the restaurant located inside Plaza Lanes, will return with a full food menu, bar, many new beverages, and a new chef to accommodate the rebirth of the restaurant. “We hope to make our restaurant a place for non-bowlers to eat and socialize with friends and family like the Found Lounge at Cambridge Springs’ Lost Lanes.” Additionally, the front parking lot will be repaved and a new, modernist floor has been added in the front entrance.
“We need to meet all of our customers’ requirements and being here every day shows our commitment to the bowling center. We want to keep the center going and improve it,” Baird and Rodriguez said. They added that they are happy to be part of Meadville’s history with the purchase of this historic location.
“Moving here was a challenge for us and the local community has been wonderful, supportive, and appreciative to us during this process which we are very thankful for,” Baird and Rodriguez said. “We’re excited to be here. If you haven’t been to Plaza Lanes lately, stop on by and see what’s going on. We would love to meet and talk with you.”
Current hours for Plaza Lanes can be found on their website at plazalanesmeadville.com and don’t forget to like their Facebook page at Plaza Lanes Meadville.
(Nick Archacki has been bowling since he was one and a half years old.)