After about six weeks since opening for the season, Leisure Lanes owners Gay and Rob Taylor say they’re busy with league bowling, but times for public bowling remains limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The bowling alley opened on Sept. 1.
Although bowling alleys were allowed to open late in Phase II of the province’s reopening plan, Leisure Lanes typically closes for the summer, as that’s the Taylors’ family time and the off-season for bowling as more people enjoy outdoor sports during the warmer months.
They’d open for certain groups, such as the Youth Centre, but with the restrictions, no groups were booking, so they took the downtime to do some extra work.
“We just decided … we wouldn’t rush to open and we’d take our time,” said Gay Taylor.
They put up plexiglass sneeze guards, social distancing signs, and did some painting and re-vamped their entrance during the summer.
Currently, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they can only use four out of their eight bowling lanes in order to social distance bowlers.
With the reduced use of their lanes, it’s making things more difficult for their leagues, as they’re spread out over more evenings to fit everyone in, and it’s cutting into public bowling time, says Taylor.
They also must sanitize the lanes, tables and shoes between groups, which is taking extra time.
There isn’t much open bowling time available, so those who wish to bowl should call ahead, so they can check if a lane is available.
Taylor says they’ve seen more ‘snowbirds’ coming into to bowl, seniors who are perhaps staying home rather than going south across the border for the winter months.
She also expects more will come in once golfing is done for the season.
There’s been a dip in some of their regulars and their youth, due to the uncertainly surrounding COVID-19.
Youth have also been recommended to stick to one sport this fall, to limit their contact with others, and some are dropping bowling in favour of other sports, says Taylor.
“There’s all kinds of reasons but our numbers are down a bit with our youth.”
Taylor says the community registration night was also “poorly attended.”
“It was very, very quiet.”
The experience isn’t quote the same for bowlers, either.
Senior groups tend to want to bring food to share, or play games while they bowl, which isn’t possible right now.
Bowlers need to stay with their own groups, and sometimes the team they’re playing against isn’t even there on the same evening. Players also aren’t supposed to high-five each other.
“The camaraderie you usually get is not the same because you’re not beside another team.”
Although COVID-19 has affected their business, as they can’t book large groups or parties, they are faring better than some, as they own their building and don’t have to worry about making rent.
“We’re okay compared to some other bowling centres.”
After running Leisure Lanes for 21 years, the Taylors have been planning to sell the bowling lane for some time now, but Taylor says she expects retirement will have to wait for the economy to recover.
There is some space available in Thursday and Friday evenings mixed league. Anyone interested should contact Leisure Lanes.