Although it was slated to close this month, Jim Mellon, owner of the Devils Lake Royal Lanes Bowling Alley met with a number of people Tuesday in the 11th Frame to issue a challenge and to give a promise to the community.
“I will give you one year to see if we can improve involvement and participation,” Mellon said to those who filled the bowling alley’s bar to overflowing.
“This last year wasn’t a bad year for Royal Lanes,” he said. “But we have to step up marketing and recruiting if we are going to turn this thing around financially.”
He promised to work alongside staff and bowlers to make improvements on the alley in hopes that the bowling community would accept his challenge to step up and really get involved in helping the business increase its success rate.
“I am 70 years old,” Mellon stated. “It’s getting to the time I want to step back and take things a little easier.” So he issued a call for someone or some group locally to step in and consider partnering with him or taking on the facility by purchasing it outright or through some other sort of arrangement. He encouraged the bowlers to come together and brainstorm about ways to accomplish the desired goal - to make the venture become more profitable - to get more people interested in bowling - to bring back bowlers who have left and to begin a feeder program of youth to ensure the facility’s future.
The meeting had a very positive and upbeat feel about it as first Mellon spoke about his hopes and dreams for Royal Lanes. He lives in the Mandan/Bismarck area and owns bowling lanes there that are doing quite well. He brought with him suggestions for implementing some of the same things they have going at Midway Lanes.
It was obvious from the round of applause Mellon got from the crowd when he announced that he would give Devils Lake another year that all the people attending the meeting were happy to hear that announcement.
Following his comments and those of Dick Johnson, Devils Lake’s Mayor, Mellon opened the floor up for questions and comments.
A number of people talked about former bowlers who had left because they were not treated well by staff who no longer work at the bowling alley. They expressed hope that those bowlers would come back someday.
Others talked about all the money bowlers spend in the community - eating at restaurants, buying gas, shopping - how that would be lost to other communities if the bowlers have to go to other towns to bowl.
Page 2 of 2 - Concerns were brought forward about some cosmetic improvements that needed to be made and Mellon promised that he would take care of some of those things - fixing the ceiling and lighting, some equipment repairs, installing more lockers, and so on. He made a commitment to providing education and help for present staff members who have been doing a fine job keeping up with the immediate needs of the facility.
“I’ll come back, too, and do what I can,” Mellon promised. “Before we close these doors, we want to do everything we can to keep this facility open. That’s your challenge and mine.”
Many left the meeting feeling optimistic and hopeful that together the community could improve involvement, make some badly needed changes and see the facility continue into the future.
If you are a former bowler who might want to give it a second try or someone who hasn’t bowled before but think it might be a good activity to get involved in, call Becky at 662-5414 (for women bowlers) or Myron at 662-8296 (for men bowlers).